Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

01/04/2015 - 18/04/2015

Production Details

“A powerful theatrical experience suffused with humour, beauty and emotional intelligence” – The Melbourne Age 

Performed by Rachael Dyons McGregor & Mike McEvoy

“A beautifully woven dialogue of stories that approach the subject of mortality from every angle… it will also have you emerging from the theatre feeling very much alive, and immensely grateful to be so.”ArtsHub Australia

TWO MORTALS is a delicate, poetic and humorous exploration of life, death and the moment in between. Composed word-for-word from interviews with people who live and work at the ends of life – morticians, cryogenicists, palliative care workers and ministers – Two Mortals weaves these true stories and experiences into a richly theatrical exploration of mortality.

This uplifting work about one of our society’s most taboo subjects is directed by Chapman Tripp Director of the Year Geoff Pinfield. Performed by Rachael Dyson-MacGregor and Mike McEvoy, with a rich polyphonic soundscape by Beatrice Lewis, Two Mortals sold out two critically-acclaimed seasons at Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre.

“Through brilliantly paced direction, precise performance, exquisite sound design and effortlessly poised lighting, Two Mortals creates a polyphonic odyssey that touches on everything from the physical processes of death and dying to the timeless philosophical and spiritual questions death raises” – THE MELBOURNE AGE 

TWO MORTALS uses ‘headphone verbatim’ technique to bring to life an array of true stories and experiences around the theme of mortality. Pre-recorded interviews are played into earpieces worn by the actors, who then simutaneously recreate the interviewee’s every inflection, intonation and hesitation – ‘channelling’ rather than simply performing. 

Interviews are also done with the audience in the foyer prior to the show, which are then used to create a new experience for each performance. Created to encourage an honest dialogue about this inevitable human experience, TWO MORTALS explores the joys and sorrows of facing mortality and the surprisingly buoyant experiences from those who work with the dead and dying. 

April 1st – 18th
$25 – $39 / 04 810 7992 

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A lot of life in a play about death

Review by Ewen Coleman 04th Apr 2015

There’s no getting away from the fact that the artfully showcased Two Mortals is about death. 

Not the grand flamboyant deaths of Shakespeare’s King Lear and the like, but the ordinariness of what is described in this 55 minute theatrical collage as the “irreplaceable breakage” that everyman must face. It’s the gravedigger talking to Hamlet rather than Hamlet puzzling over the undiscovered country. 

It deals therefore with what Montaigne defined as certain that for “most men the preparation for death has been a greater torment than the suffering of it”. [More]


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Engaging and intriguing

Review by Elle Wootton 02nd Apr 2015

Melbourne-based devisers and performers Rachel Dyson-McGregor and Mike McEvoy welcome us into the theatre giving each audience member a raffle ticket stub and a smile. The audience settles with a slight element of apprehension as to the purpose of the small pieces of paper we have been given. But relief sets in when we are clued in on the performers’ tradition of a raffle before each show.

The prize tonight – an encyclopaedia of the Royals – is awarded to a very happy member of the audience. It is with this upbeat introduction we are immediately engaged and coaxed into a relaxed state when Mike steps towards the stage right microphone and relays a post made online by an anonymous writer regarding our topic for the evening: death.  

There is a frenetic energy to begin with as the performers race from one side of the stage to the other relaying the reply posts. As one performer speaks the other holds up one of the many cardboard arrows scattered about the stage, which indicate the time of post and name.  The words begin to overlap and we hear snippets of advice, opinions, worries and personal stories.

This high level of energy and joy is a wonderful way to begin a journey through a rather morbid topic. Throughout the performance our two performers guide us. At times we see and hear them and their opinions, worries and beliefs. At others we see and hear the people they have interviewed in order to create this show. 

Each performer has a device with an earphone through which they hear original edited audio from the interviewees, which they perform in real-time to us. This form is called ‘headphone verbatim’. The performers mimic the intonation, breath, pace and accent of the interviewee as best they can. Sometimes this is done in synchronisation and sometimes done individually. The effect (especially when done simultaneously) is hypnotic to watch.

The interviewees range from everyday people to professionals who work closely with death. It is fascinating to hear about the experiences of palliative carers, morticians, nurses, those who work in cryonics and many more.

The performance touches on many aspects of death: from discussing what to do in the last hours, choosing a quick death or a drawn out demise, decomposition, and burial options to the afterlife, the existence of a soul, and the fear of letting go. The performance is aided by incredibly effective sound design and composition by Beatrice Lewis and simple but compelling visuals as we move into the second half of the play.

It is a solid performance and certainly engaging and diverse, however at one point we are brought into a black-out and although this is initially exciting, to think about the afterlife, I have to admit the darkness is too long. Fatigue soon rears its gloomy head and I feel less engaged throughout this dark section. 

Apart from this lull for me, Two Mortals, under the directorial eye of Geoff Pinfield, is an engaging and intriguing style of performance. I recommend facing your fear of the darkness and letting these performers be your very own Charon to the afterworld.


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