I’m Not Pale, I’m Dead (Lydia Nicholson)

Im_Not_Pale_cropped.jpg  810×540Venue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 26-27
Playwright: Lydia Nicholson
Actor: Lydia Nicholson

Theatre review
Lydia Nicholson is a ghost in I’m Not Pale, I’m Dead. She tells us what it’s like being dead, and what she misses about being alive. This is a simple premise, but one which provides the perfect starting point to our immortal quest for the meaning of life. Of course, there are elements in this 50 minute work that are deadly serious, but Nicholson is careful to pepper comic elements from start to finish. The contrast between the lighthearted sections and the melancholic moments gives the piece delightful texture and unpredictability. Along with its life and death “big messages”, the script is a thoroughly enjoyable and deeply moving one. The material here is wonderful, and the universality of its themes gives the script great potential to travel far and wide.

Nicholson addresses her audience directly, playing a guide of sorts to the newly-dead, only to discover that we are in fact still alive and that she is being presented with a rare opportunity to communicate with the living. As with most cases where “audience participation” is involved, a sense of ticklish glee is created, and Nicholson uses this dynamic well, keeping her audience on its toes, and establishing a good rapport from very early on. She is however, best at performing the sadder aspects of the story, especially in the passages that explore the longing she feels for the living. The intensity of that sadness is palpable, and incredibly touching.