I was delighted to be invited by Wit Incorporated to visit the lovely Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray for their production of “How I Met My Dead Husband” performed by Lansy Feng. Before you ask – yes, it is possible to attend a production billed as a ‘cabaret funeral’ and have a great time (even some laughs) while still respecting other cultures and death / funerals. “How I Met My Dead Husband”manages to do all that and more which is testament to all the talent and efforts that have combined to make the show so worthwhile.
Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn
Lansy Feng plays Chuen-Jiau, who is the focal point of the story alongside her dearly departed husband Yueh (who is regularly referred to and described but never physically seen). Chuen-Jiau is on a journey to find Yueh (who is hidden in space and time) and ultimately to find love. The entire show is performed in front of a funeral alter and Yueh’s coffin, however this does not distract from the performance. Chuen-Jiau’s story is one that spans multiple lives (via reincarnation), cultures and languages which makes this show all the more compelling. Much of the emotion in this story is conveyed via short songs, and I thoroughly enjoyed Lansy Feng’s beautiful singing. When the song words weren’t in Engligh, they were in Mandarin or French, however there was always such emotion in the melody and Lansy’s eyes that we could always tell what Lansy was singing about. I could see the joy and sparkle in Lansy’s eyes every time she sang above love. At other times, Lansy’s eyes were wistful and misty as she sang about loss and the sacrifices of love. Lansy looks demure however she sings emphatically as Chuen-Jiau!
Photo Credit: Jack Dixon-Gunn
Clever theatrical methods helped to build the story over time – after all, lots of timespans and reincarnations could become confusing. Luckily, “How I Met My Dead Husband” ensures that the audience follows Chuen-Jiau closely on her journey (and her search for love and Yueh). The entire story is weaved together via vignettes of song (no lengthy boring ballads here), modern dialogue and some fun props / scenarios. I liked the poignant reminders of life (and the life beyond) in addition to the greater message regarding self love and the different ways love can be expressed. These greater messages were uplifting and made the show heartwarming. My heart felt so full at the conclusion of the show.
Another heartwarming aspect of this production is Wit Incorporated itself. Regularly referring to the crowd as ‘friends’ I’ve never felt so welcomed by / at an independent theatre (and one that is unfunded – quite a feat in itself in a world where costs are rising all the time). There were lots of friendly faces everywhere I turned so I truly can’t recommend Wit Incorporated and “How I Met My Dead Husband” enough.
VERDICT: A love story that transcends time and lives, woven via song and witty dialogue. “How I Met My Dead Husband” is a beautiful story despite its dark title. Look beyond the title, bring your imagination and be swept away by Chuen-Jiau’s captivating story. Her messages within will stay with you.
*Disclaimer: I attended this production as a guest of Wit Incorporated