How grief manifests itself takes on many forms, within this, feelings of anger, pain, regret, sadness, fear amongst other feelings emerging at various stages within one’s grieving process, how we grieve on an individual level, as well as with our loved one or close friend, and communal level, dynamics that differ and form part of our societal fabric. An exploration of loss and the impact of this within a 15 year marriage, Safaa Benson-Effiom presents the pertinent Til Death Do Us Part, a lesson in the importance of vulnerability and the addressing of the often unsaid.
A high achieving family on the surface, all seems well – Sylvia (Danielle Kassaraté) and Daniel (Richard Holt) are in respectable professions and proud parents to their son, Andrew (Jude Chinchen) who’s top of the class, a member of various extra curricular clubs, with bright prospects academically who is a popular character within school too. Mentally and emotionally however, not all is well. Til Death Do Us Part candidly paintinga portrait of what anxiety and depression look like if gone unnoticed and untreated – a seemingly happy veneer hiding a very painful reality, we witness these two parents suddenly grapple with the loss of their son due to suicide, trying to come to terms with this devastating truth, turning to each other for comfort as well as answers and clues missed.
Benson-Effiom crafts an honest portrayal of what this heartbreaking reality looks like, an emotional one shaping Daniel and Sylvia’s marriage moving forward. This pivotal event forcing truths repressed from both parties to reveal themselves, these painful to watch and listen to, however a natural reaction to what has happened. Digital legacies of Andrew subtle reminders of his presence, an answer machine massage and references to Facebook comments a signal of the generational divide between parents and son, the recalling of knocks on the door after the news of his loss spreads a marker of their private mourning versus public.
Justina Kehinde directs a contemplative evening, one where feelings are laid bare and we’re made privy to a couple’s attempt at trying to meet some sort of middle ground. Beautiful movement sequences by Tian Brown-Sampson magnifying the unsaid, contributing a silently lyrical layer of emotion to the production, a playing around with time frame one that links the ghosts of the past with the living realities of the present. Holt’s insular, compared to Kassarate’s overt manner of grieving dynamics that see both personalities clash, Chinchen’s youthful and playful presence emerging throughout and one that momentarily quietens the chaos. A profound watch.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Til Death Do Us Part is currently showing at Theatre503 until Saturday 21st May. To find out more about the production, visit here…
For our interview with writer Safaa Benson-Effiom, visit here…