Review: The Reality Event: Suicide
What’s most interesting about this second half of The Reality Event is that the weakest aspects of Game were what I felt Suicide depended on for its success. Where Game was clearly a meta-experiment, though never explained as such, Suicide is outlined to us from the get-go by its cast as a theatrical experiment. They explain in an explicitly ad-hoc way the nature of the show—an examination of the crossroads between reality and theatrical construction—and they remind the audience repeatedly that this is not a show about suicide. Instead, it’s a show that’s first and foremost about the process, the meta-level construction/deconstruction dynamic that the show explores throughout, rather than the actual acts being committed on-stage. Suicide here is treated as a device first and foremost.
And yet there’s definitely an element of the show being ‘about suicide’. The purposeful inclusion of this symbol throughout the show demands the audience think about it—this is inherent to the process of humans viewing art. But the important thing about this show’s representation of suicide is that it attempts to say literally nothing about the subject, aside from declaring that it’s happening. Repeatedly declaring, over and over—Suicide as a show presents to us the truth of it all, the bare-bones brutality of the act, allowing the audience to bring to the show whatever their preexisting thoughts on the topic may be. One thing that’s really stuck with me from last night was a unique moment for the May 21 performance, meaning that instead of an audience vote on suicide, there seemed in its place to be a consensus regarding euthanasia.
But enough—the show is not about suicide, nor euthanasia, and this review should not be particularly concerned with either. The question here is rather the following: does Suicide achieve what it wants to? That is—does it successfully break down the barrier between reality and construction? I would say so, yes. Suicide’s improvised script, its haunting pre-show, the way the cast members mingle with the audience beforehand, and overacting on-stage (which I initially felt an impulse to critique)—every construction of this piece is so nuanced, every deconstruction so delicate; Suicide has an attention to detail that serves it well, especially considering that it’s a show concerned with removing as many details as possible (i.e. props, sets, etc.). And perhaps too this is the perfect time to say that Suicide is a triumph as performed under the Anywhere banner. It was staged originally last year as part of Vena Cava’s Fresh Blood festival, and I cannot imagine the deconstruction being half as effective in the context of a purposefully-constructed theatre space. For Suicide to take place instead in a cafe where I’ve had so many day-bevs over the past year seems so much more powerful, and for the barrier between audience and cast to be so slim—it seems integral to making the show so visceral.
When it comes down to it, it’s strange that I have such an appreciation for this show. See, the only content in media I regularly avoid is that which involves suicide; and the show’s other half Game was to me a whole bunch of fun, but I remain all in all somewhat lukewarm on it. Even the beginning of Suicide, where I watched the cast banter and awkwardly deconstruct a show I hadn’t even seen yet—I was ready to find the same problems that I found within Game. But I didn’t. In fact, the show ended up coming together for me pretty much right off the bat—once the first discussion was over, the first ballot was in, and the show was on a roll—I was involved. I was intent on following the unfolding horror, not even bothering to attempt an intellectual deconstruction of the on-stage deaths’ mechanics. Indeed, The Reality Event was once again successful in getting me lost in the moment—but unlike with Game, I have a feeling this time it’s gonna stick around in my thoughts now that the moment’s over, too.