Review: Losing You (Twice) (King Street Theatre)

kingsttheatreVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Feb 7 – 11, 2017
Playwright: Kate O’Keefe
Director: Paul Gilchrist
Cast:┬áKate O’Keefe
Image by Liam O’Keefe

Theatre review
Kate O’Keefe learned about her brother Daniel’s depression shortly before he disappeared. The anguish in losing a loved one, and the feelings of guilt, are immense, but there is little one can do that is constructive, except to talk. O’Keefe’s Losing You (Twice) is a manifestation of grief. It is conscious of the effect it could have on its audience, and does incorporate elements of activism and public service, but the work’s real concern is catharsis.

We are present to witness and to assist in O’Keefe’s healing, captivated by the authenticity of her revelations, along with the emotional power that she embodies. As performer of the piece however, O’Keefe can tend to push too hard with what she wishes to convey. Director Paul Gilchrist is aware of the show’s effectiveness when the story is seen at its most honest, but how we experience truth can become diluted when we see a person in pain indulge excessively in their sorrow. In real life, we have to suppress emotions in order that trauma can be made verbal. On this bare stage where every effort is made to strip off theatricality and pretence, the performer’s ability to be without embellishment is key, and very demanding, even if it is a real story.

Ultimately we never for one second, question any of the suffering, or the validity of O’Keefe’s efforts at turning it into art, which are sublime. In Losing You (Twice), we come face to face with the fragility of existence, and the meaning of empathy for us as individuals and communities. Not all of us will encounter such horrific events, but we have to be mindful of people who walk next to us with their own wounds. Life often seems to be easier for others, but the truth is that everybody hurts.