Review: Glad to be Dead at Gullivers Lounge ‘highlights the absurdity of modern life’

Glad to be Dead takes to the stage at Gullivers Lounge as part of the Manchester Fringe Festival and is the latest offering from Make It Mine (MIM Theatre).

It features a trio of actors portraying fictional and historical figures observing the modern world from beyond the grave – and in most cases, they have a tragic tale – some well-known, some less so – to tell about the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths.

The ensemble of deceased characters can view the modern world through a ‘window’ from within their purgatory and address the audience with the knowledge of their deaths and the historical context that we see them in from the modern day.

Over an hour, the talented trio seamlessly transitioned between personalities, offering their thoughts on the nature of life and death and the absurdity of many aspects of modern life as they see it.

Jade Flack from Make it Mine Theatre

Jade Flack, the writer and creator of MIM, most notably, takes on the role of one of history’s most poorly treated wives, Anne Boleyn, who recounts the well-known events surrounding her mistreatment at the hands of ‘Henry’.

She uses the omniscience that the afterlife provides to give her thoughts on Henry’s subsequent wives and her enduring legacy as the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, noting that she went on to be a far superior monarch than her monstrous husband ever was.

Barbara Llewellyn as Katherine Webster

Barbara Llewellyn’s portrayal of infamous Victorian murderer Katherine Webster is one of the more compelling monologues, infused with a wicked dash of dark humour that helps to add a little levity to the otherwise sombre but thoughtful production.

The account of her murder and then attempt to steal the identity of her wealthy employer is one of the most well-documented crimes of the era is concluded with the knowledge that a crucial piece of evidence – the victim’s head – was found, over a hundred years later, during the construction of Sir David Attenborough’s extension.

Bruce Murray as Dorian Gray

Completing the trio is Bruce Murray, whose standout take was that of Dorian Gray, the gothic fiction creation of Oscar Wilde. Amusingly, he observes the modern fascination with selfies and laments the death of the art of ‘wooing’ in favour of the transactional nature of modern dating through dating apps.

It was a clever choice to use one of fiction’s most vanity-obsessed characters to provide a commentary on our era of self-adulation in the age of social media.

All told the production flows well along its non-linear path of disconnected monologues, and it shows that great care was put into researching and recreating these voices from the past, as their philosophical musings are insightful and well-written.

Acting of a ‘very high standard’

The quality of the acting on show is also of a very high standard, and within the intimate confines of Gullivers Lounge, it adds weight to the performances and feels like you are being granted an audience with the characters as they recount their stories.

It makes for a thought-provoking night of theatre that does a lot within its short runtime.

Highly recommended.

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