Lydia's Funeral Video

February 5, 2008

The show is written and performed by Samantha Chanse. You may recognize her name because she was the artistic director of Kearny Street Workshop, the Asian American arts org, for a number of years. Or maybe because you've seen her byline in Hyphen. So maybe you think that makes me a little biased. She's also a friend, so maybe you think that really makes me biased. But I'd like to think that I'm able to separate someone's work from the person I know and like. In fact, there's nothing harder than thinking that your friend's work is not up to par, and trying to navigate if and how to convey that. Is it best to be brutally honest? Should you cushion it? Should you even say anything at all? Thankfully I don't have to face this particular problem since the show is really good.

I didn't know what to expect from the title or description of the show:

The not-so-distant future. A dream-invading embryo. An obsession with the apocalypse. And four weeks to shoot a video, do some standup comedy, and terminate a pregnancy.

An hour and 45 minutes of this, with no intermission? Oh dear. But I was completely engrossed. The show is set in the near-future when all abortions in the US are banned after the first 28 days of pregnancy. Our self-destructive and spazzy heroine, Lydia, discovers that she's pregnant by a guy she knows she shouldn't be involved with. (He's engaged to someone else.) She learns of her pregnancy in a dream where her embryo (played by a blob of glowing lights) tells her that she's also dying. The embryo then makes a bunch of demands: she must confront her estranged mother; she must talk to the guy, aka Manchild; she must do some stand up comedy, and most importantly, she must make a video for her funeral. Hence the title of the show.

Sounds wacky, right? But somehow it all works. What we see on stage is the footage for the video: interviews with Lydia's best friend, who is an abortion doctor; her perfectly coifed TV news reporter mom; Manchild; a silly coworker -- all played by Chanse.

I don't know that I've ever seen a show about such a serious topic that managed to be funny too. The characters are complex and the show demands independent thought on the part of the audience. Anyways, I will stop raving now, but if you want to read more, see this review at KQED (which, by the way, was written by Claire Light, a former Hyphen editor and also a friend.) (Yes, it's a small small world here in San Francisco.)

Interested in tickets? Click here.

Contributor: 

Melissa Hung

Founding Editor

Melissa Hung is the founding editor of Hyphen. She was the editor in chief for the magazine's first five years and went on to serve in many other leadership roles on the staff and board for more than a decade. She is a writer and freelance journalist. Her essays and reported stories have appeared in NPR, Vogue, Pacific Standard, Longreads, and Catapult, among others. A native Texan, she lives in California. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Comments

Comments

she's also a stand-up comic,amongst other explicit and not-soexplicit occupations... 'artist' doesnicely...
barring a show tour, any chance of the video being released online or on dvd? i'm quite intrigued, but very far from the bay area at the moment.
I must agree with Melissa. It was a good show. I have seen and worked with Chanse myself and I must say, as I always am, I was impressed again. To anyone who has worked with or seen her work, you will understand what I mean when I say "This is very Sam." A must me, I think.Advice, go on a Thursday and sit towards the front.
i just saw the show, incredibly compelling and intelligent. I think the mark of great acting is the ability to channel and to transform, and she did it beautifully on a moments notice, easily morphing from one complex character to the next...i was very impressed. Don't miss this show.