Fine Mess Theatre offers a new take on death. With A Wake in Progress, it presents an interactive piece of theatre that incorporates audience participation into the construct of a funeral. The big difference with this funeral is that the subject is hosting the event.
Rose has been diagnosed with cancer and refuses to continue with treatment. Her friends have decided that she has given up and initially baulk at her idea for a pre-funeral funeral. They come around, however, and thanks to an unconventional celebrant and further audience participation a good time is had by all.
While it may be important to talk about the process of death and dying more openly, this seems a remarkably unpalatable approach. Funerals have never been for the dead, but have always been evolving as a coping mechanism for the living.
Fine Mess argues its case in a very happy-clappy manner, desperately trying to keep the material upbeat, but nothing rings true. Especially the partially improvised acting scenes, pieced together with clichéd dialogue and predictable characters.
There’s plenty of enthusiasm behind this piece and it’s a provocative idea. But in the end, Rose’s pre-funeral funeral is just a final blowout – and they’ve been around for centuries.