Posted by Corinne Thompson
17. Feb, 2015
Daniel Tobias, in this solo performance written by himself and directed by Christian Leavesley, tells the real-life and very personal story of his diagnosis of stage three testicular cancer. Through anecdotes and musical numbers, he explores how this led him, as a person of Jewish ethnicity but not faith, to re-examine the religion he grew up with. Daniel doesn’t believe in God. His parents don’t believe in God. Some of his extended family very rigidly believe in God and follow every rule of Judaism, appearing to him as strict and severe. And yet, Daniel the confirmed Atheist asks of God, ‘Why me?’
He answers himself: ‘Oh, right, THAT’s why.’
The play begins with some amusing background on Daniel’s childhood and his Jewish family. He grew up eating bacon and celebrating Christmas with his parents, all the while keeping these secrets from their more spiritual relatives. He evolves into a secular, bohemian twenty-something. Then comes the chronic pain, the passing around from doctor to doctor, and eventually the harrowing news. Daniel decides that if there is a God, he is punishing Daniel for throwing away his membership as one of the chosen people. God is taking one of his balls. And though Daniel stays firm in his core atheistic beliefs, through the long and spirit-breaking course of chemotherapy he cannot keep himself from making someone or something into a godlike figure – Lance Armstrong, for example.
The Orchid and The Crow is centred on very distressing true events in Daniel Tobias’s past, but though the audience is allowed to feel it at appropriate points, the play is not so weighed down in the sad stuff to make this a depressing story. Daniel breaks up the tragedy with enough curveball jokes and funny musical numbers to ensure that the play is ultimately a positive one. There are rock ’n’ roll songs, Broadway-style musical numbers and a particularly stand-out opera performance that can switch from tragic to laugh-out-loud within a matter of seconds.
This is an enjoyable viewing experience, but one that has a person’s tried and tested worldview as the foundation. In this era and this region of the world, the population is predominantly secular. Still, many will turn to the idea of a God when they get too close to crisis or death. A religion can be, even for a non-believer, a symbol to hold onto or an example to follow.
The Orchid and The Crow
Malthouse Theatre, Tower Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Wednesday to Saturday, February 13-22, 7pm; Sunday, 5pm
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