Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: Lizan Mitchell, Kim Tatum.
Aside from yourself and your loved ones being healthy and happy, all that you can ever hope for in life is either being part of history, having your name linked to the times you live and have your name roll off the extensive tongue as if attached to a medieval proclamation, complete with booming voice reading out your virtues and perhaps a heroic deed or two; or seeing history made, knowing you were alive when the Earth shattering, the amazing or the downright incredible happened and perhaps seeing someone else have their moment in your company…being witness to the most awesome of performances.
Whichever way you see history, it comes at the most unexpected of times, it hits you between the eyes and reminds you of what it means to be alive and in Chisa Hutchinson’s play Dead and Breathing, that feeling is intensified, brutally chiselled into a statue and giving absolute reverence; for in Lizan Mitchell’s performance as Carolyn, a woman living with stage three cancer and the bitterness of death having had the temerity not to have claimed her crotchety old and cantankerous soul yet, one of the most outstanding moments in Liverpool theatre, certainly in the last ten years, opened up before the Unity Theatre’s audience’s eyes.
Whilst in a very different play, it could not helped be thought that Ms. Mitchell, aided beautifully by Kim Tatum in this particular two hander, had the air of the late, great Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, the assuredness of spite, the grip of fear and the tongue of a devil were heartbreakingly brilliant, the soft squeal of excited panache as the play unfolded, this is award winning presence, and to witness it is to hopefully understand the joy of living.
Dead and Breathing, perhaps something in which we all cling too, just barely surfacing above the waterline, taking in life but not living it, forgetting that seize the day is not just some mantra spoken by a comic genius, but is the most honest and yet destructive force, the most studious of pursuits that we can achieve and it often takes the nudge from the person we would least like to be around to fulfil that affirmation of life.
A play of incredible depth, of the passion that beats between life and death and of looking kindness in the face, no matter what clothes it wears; Dead and Breathing is breath-taking.
Ian D. Hall