Review: Post Mortem

Martha Fromson 14 March 2013

Post Mortem

Corpus Playroom, Tues 12th- Sat 16th, 9.30pm

This was an intriguing but exceedingly bizarre play centred on Helena, a young solicitor aspiring to become a coroner, and her motley group of friends. As Helena endures a series of increasingly odd job interviews and her flatmate, Frank, gets a job handcrafting lifelike, bespoke mannequins, their friend in the home office worries about public spending cuts affecting both police and coroners and whether the recent spate of suspicious suicides could help police and coroners prove their value. It transpires that that sinister plots are afoot, and Helena is forced to discover the link between mannequins, suicides and funding in order to save Frank from a deranged coroner’s evil clutches.

The ludicrousness of the plot made the production surprisingly compelling since it helped make it genuinely unpredictable, which is a rare trait in mystery dramas. There were high successful comic moments; for example, an interviewer asking Helena what she would like to be reincarnated as and then demanding that she ‘unpack’ her claim that she would like to be an olive had the audience simultaneously laughing and cringing in sympathy. Esma Mahoney playing Helena’s mum deserves particular praise, along with the assorted interviewers, for being hilarious and giving the show real energy.

However, sometimes the play tried too hard to be funny and ended up feeling forced, particularly when it came to the painfully crude, stilted ‘lad’ banter between Helena’s friends. Also, the humour sometimes ventured too far into the absurd leaving the audience more bewildered than amused.The humour was balanced well against the darker moments. The brief cut-scenes of mannequins being arranged into death tableaus were genuinely disturbing aided by the eerie set, with the inclusion of a table of dismembered Barbie dolls especially adding to the morbid mood. The play’s sinister undertone helped keep the audience engaged and prevented it from descending into absurdist farce.

It was unfortunate that the acting was only fairly decent and not stellar. Helena (Ellie Price) lacked stage presence, whilst Hal (George Seabridge) and Jeremy (Ryan Potter) failed to bring much depth of emotion to their roles. The piece would have benefited from polish and some editing of the more absurd moments but I do feel it showed real potential and I look forward to seeing what these Corpus Freshers produce upon reaching the glorious maturity of second-years!

Martha Fromson