Running until Saturday night
This world première by American writer Matthew Cole Kelly explores profound ideas of life and death with a playful touch.
It is the early 19th century in the Ozarks, Missouri. Modern medicine is in its infancy and the only local doctor, Jonah Hahn, laments his poor training. Encouraged by his poetry-writing wife, he wants to improve his knowledge by performing dissections on the dead, a practice forbidden by the church.
After a series of local deaths, Dr Hahn secretly exhumes the fresh bodies to study. The empty graves are discovered and a collective religious hysteria is triggered in the community. The subject sounds ghoulish, but the writing is clever, humorous and full of heart.
The eight cast members are all impressive. Director Anna Nugent for AboutFACE Ireland displays tremendous attention to detail. Set design by Jenny Owens is cramped in the small space of the Civic studio but the use of the rope curtain as a portal for the dead is inspired. Language is frequently contemporary: the daughter describes things as "awesome".
The whole giddy concoction is not tied to a realistic sense of time but exists in a realm of pure theatre, where the dead and the living intermingle. A rich theatrical experience with plenty of laughs.