A Matter of Life and Death

Tom Morris and Emma Rice

KCS Theatre Company

C Venues

From 11 August 2013 to 17 August 2013

Rating: ****

Review by Liam Blain

A mesmerising piece of theatre from start to finish, A Matter of Life and Death is a beautifully directed production that will have you crying with laughter one minute and gasping in horror the next.

KCS Theatre Company tells the fantasised tale told by the National Theatre in 2007 of Peter Carter (Christian Hines) whose plane is hit during the First World War. After a brief conversation with a female radio operator June (Jonas Moore), he plummets to earth to find he has survived... and miraculously landed at the feet of his new found love.

A farcical story ensues as people in charge of "The Place You Go To When You Die" realise a mistake has been made and go on a desperate plight to get Carter to enter the Land of the Dead—where he rightfully belongs.

From the moment you step into the auditorium, you are transported back into the 1940s with wartime music tinkling around the room and a stunning, human-sized toy theatre staring back at you from the stage. The scenic design by Louise Furlong in this stylised and inspiring production is jaw dropping with every angel wing to light up the globe made to perfection.

This, combined with Adam Cross's captivating direction using puppetry, song and toy-theatre to tell the tale, gives KCS Theatre Company all of the tools necessary to stage, what is, an out-of-this-world production.

There are a couple of directorial decisions that are certainly questionable however. What seems like an elephant in the room for the whole performance is the casting of June as male. By all means Moore plays the part fantastically with the comic element really heightening the show but the purpose behind it is very much left as a cliffhanger.

Also, choosing to abridge the ending of the original play and cutting possibly the most famous part of the script, the coin toss that ultimately decides Carter's fate, is a mourn-worthy loss. The play really does hang on whether the pilot will survive or lose his battle, not knowing almost felt like a let down.

However, the acting is, on the whole, superb with great character portrayals and emotional dialogue. Credit must be given to Conductor 71, Gregory Coates. His comic timing and hilarious accent bring great laughs to the performance. Also, Nabil Jetha as Shakespeare is a brilliant casting decision as he states his lines with real flair and gusto.

Overall, KCS Theatre Compny's production of A Matter of Life and Death is fun yet heartfelt and will leave you humming "We'll Meet Again" long after you've left the venue.

A Matter of Life and Death runs until 17th August at C +3.