What’s it all about?
Death, essentially. Not the jolliest choice of subjects in the run-up to Christmas but stay with us…
The latest offering from British writing heavyweight Caryl Churchill, Here We Go – all 45 minutes of it – is split into three parts, all of which, I’m afraid to report, are pretty morbid.
The first sees mourners gather to not only reflect on the passing of their friend but to inform the audience of their own future deaths. Brain tumours, cancer, motorcycle accidents. One of them even dies the next day, she tells us.
The second focuses on the deceased as he finds himself in a dark tunnel supposedly on his way to the pearly gates, while the final 20-minute scene looks back at the old gentleman’s last days and sees the same routine repeated, in complete silence, over and over again.
Who’s in it?
Patrick Godfrey leads the cast as the elderly gentleman whose death, and the days leading up to it, is explored in reverse. Present only in the second and third parts of the production, Godrey’s role sees him deliver an impassioned monologue in which he yearns to be reborn and, in the case of the final scene, remain entirely speechless, with only his body and facial expressions to reveal his pain and despair.
His fellow cast members, with the exception of Hazel Holder who appears later in the production as the old man’s detached carer, appear only in the first scene, unveiling their fates – and that of the gentleman’s cat – with nonchalance.
What should I look out for?
The heart-breaking final scene which makes you realise that, in some cases, death may come as an immense relief.
In a nutshell?
Caryl Churchill brings a heavy dose of doom and gloom to the National Theatre in this intriguing exploration of death.
What’s being said on Twitter?
— Lauren Lyle (@LlaurenLyle) November 27, 2015
— Kobna HoldbrookSmith (@HoldbrooksMyth) November 27, 2015
Will I like it?
If you were sold on the combination of death and a cat, as described in the National Theatre’s synopsis, you should know that the play’s content focuses very much on the former. As you can probably imagine, this doesn’t make for the most upbeat and uplifting production you’ll see this year. But, whether it’s Churchill’s initial portrait of the fragility of existence or her lasting image of diminished quality of life, there is still plenty to admire about this simply staged but deeply affecting production.