I’ve never been to a wake, but I can safely say hosting one in a bar, a most Irish affectation, I am told, may come with a certain set of unfortunate but hilarious outcomes. It’s an old cliché that death rituals are about the living—a show of elegy, narcissus eulogies. Sermo Scomber Theatre’s In Memoriam is no different. It hinges on the ridiculousness of the fact and basks in it’s messy, lively tastelessness.
A shuffling cast of fluid, multi-talented women (and one gent, too), all of Cheddar Fandango’s eulogizers take turns refilling their swizzle-stick drinks, throwing back shots at the bar and telling all of us what cheddar meant to them. As you might assume, things turn to retribution and over-sharing as everyone gets more and more liquored up. Shouts across the room are exchanged, expediently. And in turn, we get a realer, more hilarious portrait of Cheddar, as well as of the people who populated her life.
Whether it’s her three singing sisters—the kind one, the estranged one, the white and not-so-nice one—her best friend, who met her when she walked in on her screwing her husband in Berlin, the pal who wants his cashmere back, the friend who aims to, corset and all, make it yet another performance, and the random dame/crasher who no one seems to know, and who’s full of checkout aisle slam poems, everyone at Cheddar’s bar-side wake takes part in making it what Cheddar’s life seems to have been at its best: a performance.
Complete with reaper/dead-Cheddar tap-dance interludes, original songs and a crowd pleasing rendition of “Amazing Grace,” In Memoriam doesn’t disappoint, even if it’s got one too many Tom Waits songs in the background. Wakes are kinda tacky, so it’s alright; indulgences have their time and place.
See it at the Wiggle Room tonight as part of the Montreal Fringe festival; pay your respects, if you’ve got any.