Tabby has a near-death experience. She falls in love with a chicken-headed God called Carl Jung. Alas, Tabby is resuscitated but she is determined to return to her love. Her divorced parents come together to care for her and, through this, navigate their own love story. Near Death Experience tragic comedy that triumphs over despair.
We talked to writer and director Natalie Medlock all about the play:
Where did the idea for the work come from?
I was obsessed with Near Death Experiences. I suffer from depression and thought, 'if I could just have one, maybe it'd cure me'. There are a lot of reports of this happening.
How do Carl Jung and a chicken head fit in to the work?
Carl Jung had a near-death experience. And the chicken head is actually a cockerels head (but chicken is a funnier word). The Greek god Abraxas. Jung claimed Abraxas was a higher god than the Christian god and was actually a combination of god and the devil in his book The Seven Sermons to the Dead, published in 1916. Good and evil, light and dark is a juxtaposition and/or an ironic verisimilitude explored in the play.
What has it been like working with this team of creatives?
AMAZING. The cast are all such pros. It's a dream team. And everyone has been very impassioned about the script.
The work is described as a tragic comedy - how do you think comedy works to deliver a message?
The basic rule everyone knows is that comedy makes tragedy digestible. Makes it watchable and entertaining. It lures the audience in before the cliched sucker punch. But primarily it makes it for an honest portrayal of life. Speaking as a depressed person, there is not a moment, even in my darkest hour where I do not find life completely absurd. I may be wailing on the floor and then look outside of myself and go 'the f am I doing?!'.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. I don't know what I believe when it comes to love. I guess I think it's something you work at together. But - in the world of the play - when you have a near-death experience, it's mostly reported that you feel complete wholeness with the universe; absolute love. Thus Tabby (our protagonist) falls in love with chicken headed Carl Jung.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the experience?
A reborn love of theatre. Mine, tragically, wanes as I see a lot of rubbish. This will not be rubbish! Swear on Carl Jung's grave. But most importantly I hope it offers an insight into depression. I hope the depressed feel less alone, and I hope those who love a depressed person realise how brave they are engaging with them and their illness.
Near Death Experience is on at Basement Theatre from 31 Jul - 04 Aug. Book tickets or find out more here.