Advertising Death

By Colin Flaherty

A pair of Funeral Directors in financial and ethical trouble, a soon to be grieving widow, a corrupt doctor and a kinky priest; some great characters for a comedic play. The band George Glass (Nic Conway, Pud Hamilton, Henry Koehne, Alister McMichael and Daniel Murnane) attempted to stage their story as a Rocky Horror styled comedic rock opera but found that they didn’t quite have the abilities of Richard O’Brien.

The plot had plenty of twists and turns, so many that it was easy to lose track of what was going on if you weren’t paying close attention. All the characters were repugnant souls, even the ones initially portrayed as objects of sympathy, and you were supposed to laugh at their lack of morals but beyond that they didn’t exhibit a lot of depth.

This was billed as a dark comedy but the actual comedic content of the script was somewhat lacking.  You could see that there were some potentially great ideas in there but the writing and execution were not quite up to par. They often went to tasteless territory just for the sake of it and didn’t hit on anything particularly witty. There were some amusing lines within the script but the cast had major issues with timing and the general ability to sell these lines so most of it fell flat.

One saving grace was their talent as a band. They all had the musical chops to write catchy songs and swap between instruments, but this didn’t help them as purveyors of comedic songs. The initial songs each had a funny line repeated ad nauseam but, combined with the lousy sound mix when the full band kicked in, it was difficult to pick out anything else amusing. Later songs went the melancholic route to add some emotional texture to the show. A few tunes appeared to have been shoehorned in so their relevancy to the story was vague at best.

A hell of a lot of effort went into the staging of this play. There were plenty of costume changes to bring the characters to life and elaborate props were used in key scenes which unfortunately led to extended periods of a dark stage as they struggled to change for the next scene. Our raised hopes for the climatic ‘Funeral of the Century’ came close to being fulfilled with a number of fun surprises. All this colour and movement certainly went a little way in maintaining our interest in the story.

After seeing this show, I learnt that it has had a number of runs previously, but nothing appears to have been learnt from these performances. It’s a shame as this has a lot of potential to be a great show but in its current form it still falls way short.

Advertising Death is on at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute at 10pm until September 27.