……. to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City
A European premiere from acclaimed American playwright Halley Feiffer.
“I can make cancer jokes. Because I have cancer” – Marcie
This play might not be for everybody, I admit it. But I loved it and I highly recommend it. For me it hit very close to home, almost uncomfortably so, but in my opinion – and I realise that everybody deals with disease, dying and grief differently – it is best to keep your sense of humour, no matter how grim things are. But you do need your sense of humour to be dark for this play, luckily mine is charcoal going on to black.
With ‘strong language from the start’ (as they say on television) this is a hard-hitting, heart-tugging, head-spinning, humour-laden drama/comedy/romance that tells things as they are. No mincing of words, no holding back, no hiding of emotions – Halley Feiffer’s play is brutally honest and devastatingly funny at the same time.
‘And I can say that. Because I have been there myself’ – me
We first meet Karla, a feisty foul-mouthed twenty-something comedian, trying out her latest, quite raunchy, material on her mother, who seems to be completely oblivious to it, as she is lying heavily sedated in a hospital bed after surgery for ovarian cancer. Enter Don, a slobby middle-aged man in the midst of a nasty divorce, who is visiting his mother on the other side of the room-dividing curtain, and who takes offence to Karla’s vulgar language and inappropriate jokes. Karla and Don start fighting, verbally and physically, but eventually these two open up to each other and soon they lay their feelings about past and present, life and death bare, and get to know each other. We find out what is behind Karla’s prickly behaviour and Don’s messy exterior and how they cope with being faced with one of the hardest things in life – losing somebody you love.
Cariad Lloyd is perfect in the role of Karla, totally believable at being both the tough mouthy comedian and the daughter filled with insecurity, who has been put into a situation, she is not sure she can handle. Rob Crouch is wonderful as Don, who is faced with losing the last constant in his life, after selling his business and separating from his wife and son, giving his character an almost childlike vulnerability and neediness while having to deal with his mother’s imminent death. Kristin Milward, as Karla’s mother Marcie, comes into her own in the second half of the play, showing her frustration with the disease and her difficult relationship with her daughter, as well as her flirty and funny side. Cara Chase plays Geena, Don’s mother, and without giving anything away, got one of the loudest laughs from the audience.
Cancer will hit anybody at some point. Even if you don’t get the disease yourself, you will know at least one family member who suffers from it or a friend who has succumbed to it. I have lost several beloved people to cancer and others are survivors, but for me nothing about the sheer randomness of the illness hits home more than a photo from my last day at school in 1981. There I am, surrounded by my class mates and friends, all of us excited and looking forward to the future, and the two girls to my left and right, as well as the one kneeling in front of me, are now no longer with us, all three taken by cancer.
So how do you react as a patient or as a loved one? Is there a right or a wrong way to cope with disease, dying and death? Who decides that you can’t laugh, enjoy life or even fall in love in the darkest of times? Does that make you a bad person? I don’t think so.
My message is: enjoy and remember the good times, the funny moments, the smiles and the laughter and keep on making jokes, even if they are inappropriate.
A big shout out to the set and costume designer Isabella Van Braekel. It always amazes me when I see what can be done at such a small theatre, but I have to say, the attention to detail here was outstanding.
Playwright Halley Feiffer has returned to the Finborough Theatre following last year’s sell-out production of her Outer Critics’ Circle Award nominated I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit… received its critically acclaimed world premiere Off-Broadway in 2016 at the MCC Theater at Lucille Lortel Theatre before its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse.
Tickets & Times
Tuesday , 2 October – Saturday, 27 October 2018
Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Saturday Matinees at 3.00pm (from 13 October 2018).
Performance Length: Approximately 80 minutes with no interval.
Prices until 14 October 2018
Tickets £18, £16 concessions
except Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Previews (2 and 3 October) £14 all seats.
£10 tickets for Under 30’s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.
£14 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 6 October 2018 when booked online only.
Prices from 16 October 2018
Tickets £20, £18 concessions
except Tuesday Evenings £18 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £20 all seats.
118 Finborough Road
Telephone 020 7244 7439 (email is always the best way to contact us)
Box Office 01223 357 851