Cath Styles in Day Of The Dead

By Caitlin Crowley

Cath Styles didn’t realise how she’d cruised through life until the grim reaper came calling and hit her for six. When two important people in Styles’ life are diagnosed with cancer it throws her unblemished record, “no one ever dies in our family”, right out the window.
Styles takes the roughest time of her life and weaves it into an incredibly touching, funny show with Day of the Dead. She manages to find the humour in dying last wishes, sobbing fits that feel like they’ll never end and cancer treatments. Woven throughout the show are anecdotes of life with four teenage sons, apprentice suicide bombers and friends’ annoying traits.

When Styles and her sister decide to take their grieving souls off to Mexico for the Day of the Dead Festival (Dia de Muertos) she realises that we don’t do death well in our culture. Styles explains how the Mexican festival, where dead souls are welcomed home every year for a 24-hour visit, makes the loss of loved ones more bearable.

I do have one niggle with the show though. Styles arrives on stage holding an A4 notebook which she refers to for the Spanish translation of her introduction. Then she places it on her stage table and tells us that the show is ‘in development’ so she’s keeping her notes handy in case she needs to refer to them. She didn’t need them. So my question is: what are you doing Cath Styles? Day of the Dead had a run in Adelaide, we’re week three in the Comedy Festival and this is a very good show. I was there and I can assure you the only person in the room who would consider this a show ‘in development’ is you! Lose the scrappy Spirax pad, shout yourself a colourful Mexican notebook and if you’re worried about forgetting your place use an artistic device like referring to your notebook for a Mexican saying or prayer. We’re having a good time out there in your audience and we won’t notice it at all.

There’s a saying: “Only once one has known real sadness can one feel true happiness.” This is the kind of comedy show I like, it’s not an hour of amusing but forgettable one-liners, it’s comedy that packs a punch and stays with you afterwards. Styles takes genuine sadness, finds the happiness in amongst it, and luckily for us she shares it. Pack the tissues, bring someone you love and expect to laugh and cry.

Living the Dream is on at The Downstairs Lounge @ The Swanston Hotel until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/day-of-the-dead-cath-styles-in