Day of the Dead – Cath Styles

By Hannah Frazer  

Mortality and the use of the big ‘D Word’ (death, for those of you playing at home) is a tricky topic to get right in comedy. Cath Styles gives her take on mortality with the telling of her own personal stories of the deaths of 3 of those closest to her. Particularly how it broke her, and how tacos, coronas and a little bit of face paint brought her back to life. Day of the Dead is a touching ode to those Styles has lost and a reminder to everyone else that life is short. This intimate show manages to dissect the humour out of a difficult subject.

While a little disappointingly rusty at times on her material, brushing the cobwebs off her notebook, Styles was honest and raw with her story telling. Establishing her love of the Spanish language early in the piece; and as the show progresses, you come to understand its significance to Styles and her grieving process.

Styles admits to always having an immense fear of death from a young age, even though she never dealt with its harsh reality until later in life. But as the old saying goes ‘When it rains, it pours’, with not one but three sucker punches from death all at once. Cancer taking the lives of her mother and best friend, while also losing the beloved family cat named ‘Cat’ (she hadn’t planned on keeping it for long). Styles reminisces on the fond memories of those strong and hilarious women, taken too soon by one of life’s most punishing diseases, as well as how the purr of a kitten can melt a heart. The realness of her circumstances giving her a big slap in the face, when not only did her doctor put a very small timeframe on her mother but also realising that not even her many variations of delicious and creamy homemade cheesecakes could keep her around.

It is safe to say that these loses where not an easy thing to come back from. Styles unhappiness with the way that death is dealt with in her own back yard, together with her sister decided to take control of their own destinies. They both Left stable jobs and incomes to pursue a life in the arts, but not before adding a 6th stage to their grieving process, nicely slotting MEXICO in just before ‘acceptance’. Sharing a trip to the ‘Day of the Dead’ festival together helped to put things into perspective for Styles. Their new found understanding of the Mexican culture helped them establish a new relationship with death and come out the other side, ready for a new beginning.

While no one-way of dealing with death is the same, Styles stands by the belief that life is short and if you are not happy, make a change. It is just a shame that it has to be a kick in the guts from the skeleton in the hood to remind you.

Day of the Dead by Cath Styles is on til Oct 5

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