No, I'm not going critique the mediocre television comedy show from '90s staring the slightly creepy David Spade. Instead I'm going to write about last night because those three words featured prominently in my thoughts between 8:00 and 9:30 pm.
I had bought tickets for my mum, my sister and myself to see Missing The Bus To David Jones as part of their Chrissie presents because quite frankly I loved the title. This is how the blurb described it:
"It's a secret world. Banal, a bit crazy, and well, quite frankly, surreal. But there's plenty of beauty here too...
What happens behind the swinging doors and beige walls of a nursing home? Meet the residents, staff and visitors and come on a surreal adventure, where day to day rituals give way to moments of spirited abandon. Yes there are walking frames and super sized bibs. But there’s also candy floss, balloons, and dancing – and bingo! And a lot of kindness.
Theatre Kantanka, with its visual and physical performance style, brings beauty, humanity, and much hilarity to this little-known and hidden universe. As baby boomers grapple with the dilemmas of ageing parents, this heartfelt and uplifting production finds celebration where you might least expect it."
Really, I should have known better. Not only does my family not like to discuss death but my mum went through a very hard time when my grandmother was in an aged care hostel for many years prior to her death. Not good memories for all of us but particulary for my mum.
When I read the blurb originally I focused on "heartfelt" and "uplifting" but I should have realised it wasn't going to involve too many laughs. However, it did provide quite a few laughs for the many of the audience members, just not my mum, who spent a great deal of time glaring over her shoulder at the laughees, hissing at me "what is so funny?".
It was definitely black humour at it's darkest. I could see the humour in some, maybe not all of it. Old age and the indignity and saddness and loss of humanity it brings is undeniably very sad but as with all things in life finding the humour in such horror is also very human and necessary for the sake of our sanity.
From the very start I knew I had made a terrible mistake, that mum would hate this show and asked her very early in the piece if she wanted to leave. She said "no" and we sat through an hour and a half of my own physical and emotional discomfort, not because I wasn't enjoying the production (I actually did enjoy it - wonderful acting and creative production design) but from knowing my mother was hating it and hating the audience who was enjoying it.
At the end I braced myself for what was to come but luckily it didn't eventuate. The criticism was brief and, more importantly, not of me for my terrible choice of show. Plus there was the added bonuses of free canapes and drinks when we came out - it must have been either the first or last show of this production - which kept my mum and sister busy.
So a small public warning: choose carefully before you buy family members tickets to the theatre, you could just live to regret it.