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A toe tapping, finger snapping journey of life and death
Angel of Death, the Pythonesque world premiere by Briggs and Heaysman Theatre Co., sings and dances it way around what it's like to be in the business of reaping souls. Tongue firmly in cheek, the show throws taboo out the window going on a toe tapping, finger snapping journey of love, loss, war, religion, life and death.
The story tells the beginnings of the grim reaper from an unprovoked assassination to a bargain struck between the lords of the afterlife, and the grim reaper coming to grips with his new purpose and identity. Amidst the 16th century barbaric reign of Queen Elizabeth I, an impending war and the sweeping black plague it is a particularly busy time for the Angel of Death to learn the ropes while seeking revenge for his murder and keeping watch over his mortal family at the same time.
Angel of Death Poster
Theodore Girgolas delivers a solid performance and sings well, with depth as the title character, Angel of Death. On stage for much of the show, he has a commanding presence but also blends back well into subtly lurking in shadows, as the grim reaper would. Emily Gerretsen and plays the Angel of Death's cold wife alongside Carolina Fioravani as his daughter, who sings beautifully.
Playing God, Nicholas Miotti is outstanding with a refreshing twist on the iconic character and some hilarious scenes. He does a terrific job bringing human elements (and a surprising accent) to the almighty being, and humorously inappropriate asides. In the opposite corner, Sophie Atkinson plays The Devil channelling a devious dose of Kathy-Lee Griffiths-quirk and sarcasm.
Looking every bit the purse-lipped part, Kimberley Jones conquers her role of Queen Elizabeth I. Her performance of Heaysman's composition singing 'Off with their Heads' was a show highlight. Think Paramore covering 'It's Raining Men' with suitably more macabre lyrics. Jarred Kelly and James Gray provide comedic relief from the Queen, taking lend of some classic comedy skits and dark clowns Thomas Martin and Nicholas Righetti bring their own style to jokes any dad would be proud of.
Theodore Girgolas in rehearsal as the Angel of Death
The set was simple, but very effective in the small space of the Bakehouse Theatre. Clever lighting design delivered that classic shadowed face of death and some intimate character developing moments. Ashlee Skinner's choreography did well to stay within the confines, pulling out a few classic musical moves and gender bending characters. Those big chorus numbers like 'Life of the Scythe' and 'What's worse than the plague' could easily can-can their way across a larger space in future adaptations.
In the musical-come-pantomime-come-black-comedy, the fourth wall is often broken and audience interaction brings opportunity for spontaneous humour. In a 16th century era story with 21st century technology, pop-culture references and Super Mario inspired sound, anything goes.
Briggs & Heaysman Theatre Co. premiere of Angel of Death is a tremendous undertaking for the company in their first show. With a completely original script and score, the show is also directed and musically directed by Matthew Briggs and Josh Heaysman themselves. The vision of Briggs & Heaysman Theatre Co. is to promote upcoming local authors and artists, bringing fresh ideas and innovations to the theatre community. It's terrific to see the success of their inaugural production and with some polish, the scene is set for more great things to come from this young duo.
The remainder of the season runs at The Bakehouse Theatre Thursday, 28 January 2016 to Saturday, 30 January 2016, nightly at 8:00pm.