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Tuesday, 08 July 2014 11:40

7 Ways to Die, A Love Story explores the alienation of urban life

Written by  Rachel Wormsbecher
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Loneliness is a part of urban life. Tens of thousands of people living together in a small space, crammed into apartment buildings and packed shoulder to shoulder on public transit. Thousands of people brought together through the urban experience on a daily basis but hardly ever speaking. Hardly ever making eye-contact. Hardly ever feeling a deeper sense of connection and intimacy to others.

In the play “7 Ways to Die, A Love Story,” one of the featured plays at this year’s Chautauqua Festival at the Lyric Theatre July 10-13, it is this fundamental question of alienation and loneliness which is explored in interesting way.
By using masks and the techniques of clowning to tell the story of two isolated individuals, Rachel and Irving, with a deadly fixation for each other, the play’s authors Alex and Keltie Forsyth seek to illuminate the darker corners of human urban existence.
“In many ways this is a play about loneliness,” explains Keltie. “The common denominator in these characters is their isolation...It is a little bit dark, but oddly one of the things in telling the story through masks, it allows the light-heartedness to emerge. In the end these masks are really sort of big puppets and you do connect with them emotionally. But there is also this sort of comedic violence in the piece. It becomes almost roadrunner and Wiley Coyote-esque; however, it certainly doesn’t come across as flippant.”
“It has that kind of quality to it,” agrees Alex, “because the masks are not really people. And the masks are really cute so that also helps people to see the humour and light-heartedness even in some of the darker elements. We hope the audience comes out feeling lighter in spirit. And feeling — you know what, life’s not all that bad.”
The Forsyths have worked on “7 Ways to Die, A Love Story” for several years, and admit they started out with a much broader version of the play starring several characters, but as the story became more and more clear to them they began peeling off layers and paring it down to its most basic elements. The final version which emerged is much rawer in its intensity than either ever imagined it would be.
“It’s really sort of a simple story,” says Alex. “And the way to start getting emotions across that really is sort of strengthening all and stripping away all the stuff we don’t really need to be doing. We realized we didn’t need words.”
“It really forces you to concentrate on the essential,” confirms Keltie. “There is a lot of narratively driven theatre being created out there right now, but with this kind of theatre it is the opposite, and it’s a wonderful challenge. It really forces a lot of the exposition and action to happen in the moment. It forces the audience to connect on an emotional not an intellectual level.”
The play “7 Ways to Die, A Love Story” hits the Lyric Theatre stage July 10 at 9 p.m. and July 11 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12 each. As an opening interlude, the play features local performers Tim Kalinowski, the Green Braes and Becky Neustater.

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