Written and performed by Mia Morrissey, Directed by Sam Hooper, Musical Direction by Andrew Warboys
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Grief is a hell of a thing. It’s beauty, despair and the five stages all rolled into one. Mia Morrissey is a self-obsessed griefophile (it’s not a word, I know) which she puts on full display with In Loving Memory. The audience are welcomed into Morrissey’s mind to toy with the multifaceted fixations on grief that each one of us will experience at some point in our lives. What we’re left with afterwards is the knowledge that grief is not just attached to loss, but the acceptance of change.
Written by Morrissey with arrangements by Charlotte Macinnes, In Loving Memory is a one person show with a stellar creative team that have helped Morrissey to design something unique. Draped across the centre of the Hayes Theatre is a tapestry of notes and scribbles written by Morrissey in her musings whilst developing her music. Design by Dan Barber is in tune with the funeral aesthetic of the piece with wax candles adorning the front of the stage and the three-piece band (led by Andrew Warboys) being dimly lit by a warm purple hue behind the tapestry. Centre of the setting lies a large black urn – who is inside it is a meaning to dissect after the show.
Director Sam Hooper orchestrates Morrissey’s journey throughout the piece from her hauntingly beautiful entrance, through to the rollercoaster of emotions she deals with through the theatrical “funeral” that takes place.
Morrissey herself is captivating to watch. She uses humour to dance around the subject matter at hand through saucy songs such as ‘Funeral Blacks’, before diving into the outrageous anger that we all feel from loss in ‘Fuck You’.
Some of the song choices hit right at your heart, some may not fly as high as the others, but overall Morrissey creates a web of a tale of someone who has thought deeply about what love costs. The song ‘What If’ pulls you in with its soft, subtle qualities that rock you gently in a warm embrace, whereas ‘Song of the Living’ reminds you of the life you need to still live.
As for the message that we are to take away from this? It’s not just one simple answer. The aforementioned urn could just be where a loved one remains. Morrissey also uses it to make a comment on the You that is buried with that person. “I miss her,” states Morrissey. A line so simple, but so effective.
In Loving Memory may sound very hard hitting and it definitely could be for those who have experienced loss, especially if recently, so heed the trigger warning here. However, for a strangely therapeutic space of time, Morrissey reminds us that theatre itself allows us the space to share in grief, to understand grief, to say ‘Fuck You’ to grief, and to learn to survive with grief.
In Loving Memory plays at the Hayes Theatre until 23rd July. Tickets can be booked here
Presented by Hayes Theatre Co.
Written by and Starring Mia Morrissey
Director Sam Hooper Music Director Andrew Worboys Designer Dann Barber Arranger Charlotte Macinnes
Artwork Design Dann Barber Artwork Photographer Nick Simpson Deeks