Review of ‘A Dead Body in Taos’: “An autopsy of the soul”

David Farr’s latest play lands in London for a strictly limited run after touring across the UK from its inception at the Bristol Old Vic. Guillermo Názara reviews this piece exploring human emptiness and crave through the eyes of the inert, to let us know his thoughts on this production taking place at one of the most alluring venues in London’s Off-West End.

I f***ing nailed it! That’s all I want my epitaph to say. No regrets, no unfulfilled dreams, nothing to wake me up from my everlasting rest but the sour remembrances of those who knew me (trust me, there are a few of those). They say that we only live once (though many of the ones who strongly support that idea also believe in the after life…), so why should we restrain ourselves from doing what we really want to instead of what others expect us to? Sounds like a motivational cliché, but the sooner we embrace it, the lesser we’ll be wasting what society is never going to give us in return: time.

This season, Wilton’s Music Hall melts away its nineteen-century ambience (only in narrative values) to offer us a journey to the not-too-distant future. Penned by experienced dramaturg David Farr (earlier credits include The Night Manager, The Hunt and The Jungle Book), this new piece deals with the innate human fear of loss and the desperate attempts it triggers to prevent it or, alternatively, replace it – only to find that within our nature, for joy to exist there has to be sadness to ground it. Such a theme is not unfamiliar to general audiences, as theatre, literature and film have tampered with it in a quite a few occasions, producing from acclaimed masterworks like Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novel The Positronic Man -previously, The Bicentennial Man-) to nightmarish catastrophes such as Spielberg’s infamous A.I. Artificial Inteligence (sorry not sorry if it was your childhood’s fave).

However, Farr’s writing and plot design manage to build their own spot in the fictional universe, resulting in a text that, though not exceptional, achieves to create a much enjoyable and interesting ride as well as bonding a connection between the viewers and many of the roles – no matter how loveable or obnoxius (seriously, you want to throw the lead’s mother out of the window) they are. The character construction is therefore well executed, giving depth and relatability to them (either because we’ve been when they are, either because they might remind us of somebody we know) as well as some sort of evolution throughout the performance.

©Tristram Kenton 10-22

Relying on a simple yet functional and very aesthetic set, the production’s visual stand out not only for their ability to emanate and generate a tangible atmosphere, but also the dynamism and effective use of the stage space -a succesful effort attained by both designer Ti Green and play’s director Rachel Bagshaw-. Similar recognition goes to the cast, out of whom the highilights are set first on Dominic Thorburn (once again, showing off his usual charisma and presence as a confident actor -read our previous review of him here-) and then on Eve Ponsonby for her portrayal of both human and cyborg self Kath (equally unbearable, but a thespian triumph).

Featuring comedy, ongoingly rapid pace, a luring plot and a slight pull from the heart’s strings, A Dead Body in Taos has more than a few ingredients to guarantee a nice night in the theatre and, even of further note, to boost some profound conversations after watching. You may regret many things in life or wish you had some of them in a different manner, but you won’t certainly repent from going to see this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Dead Body in Taos plays at Wilton’s Music Hall until 12 November. Tickets are available on the following link.

By Guillermo Názara

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