Life Sentence

Life Sentence follows the story of Theo, who has just been diagnosed with immortality. Theo mourns the fact that he’ll never have last words, a funeral, or be made great or infamous by death. The plot descends into further silliness via a confused and unsuccessful proposal of love and then by a faux-funeral, thrown so that Theo can feel more at ease about never being thrown a real one.

The central premise is interesting and original, and the dialogue was often very funny. There were, however, a few dodgy moments near the end where things started taking a more serious tone that didn’t quite fit in with the silliness that had preceded it, catching the piece awkwardly between genres. It seemed on the whole too light-hearted to be a serious drama and too downbeat to be a comedy show. The structure also could have done with tightening up, each scene began to feel episodic with neither a huge amount of development in between, nor any sense of progress. There were also conversations which seemed superfluous or went on a little too long which could have been edited.

Sharper direction would have helped. The energy was low and the pace remained unvaried throughout. This made jokes which would otherwise have worked a charm somewhat monotonous. Claire Parry helped to lift the tone of the piece as the overbearing actress and then as the melodramatic mourning mother of Theo. However, across the board the cast lacked a vital degree of confidence. The first scene was especially shaky, with actors seeming both nervous and distracted. Having said this, the cast did warm up throughout the piece and so may well warm up throughout the run. With a bit of life breathed into it, this production could be better. Unfortunately, at the moment it feels more like a work in progress.

Performances

The Blurb

A comedy about a hypochondriac diagnosed with immortality. Winner of Oxford Student newspaper’s Best New Writing of 2012, be sure to catch the first reincarnation of this hilarious play. ‘Very funny, well-performed and tightly written’ (OxfordTheatreReview.co.uk).