Review by Max D’Ambrosio – Showbill.ca Staff Writer
OBIT: A Deathly Serious Comedy delivers on the promise of its title, though perhaps a bit too literally.
Halfway decent comedy does seem to outweigh the serious portions of the play, but not by much, and the serious parts don’t hold much dramatic impact. Comedy on the theme of death and general human frailties is, perhaps counter-intuitively, a reliable source of comedy, as well as drama – but OBIT fails to fully capitalize on it for either purpose.
Most of the comedy relies on shock or gross-out humour however, while being a legitimate form of comedy, the jokes often fall flat as a result of fairly tame choices subject matter, perhaps aimed at demographics that are somewhat easier to weird out than average. Only a few punchlines rise to the level of a full belly laugh, rather than mirth of the more polite and guarded variety.
The show’s more dramatic scenes touch on various controversial issues, very lightly, and then put them aside. During the latter half this is more glaring, since jokes become less frequent – the likely intention being that pathos is supposed to take their place. Unfortunately, these scenes never do much more than point vaguely in the direction of a line of inquiry. Early on, a single point is made regarding gender dynamics that is somewhat interesting, but it too is shelved for the rest of the show after one airing.
The actors each do an excellent job of their multiple roles. Their comic timing is uniformly top-notch, and they do their best to sell the most funny and touching of the lines they’ve been given.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, OBIT: A Deathly Serious Comedy is not a satisfying examination of life, death, and what happens afterwards, nor is it a satisfying exploitation of the topic for comedy. Like the subjects of so many obituaries, it made a few people laugh during its time, and that’s about it. Though, maybe that’s enough, for some plays?
OBIT: A Deathly Serious Comedy runs until September 17th as part of the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival.