“’This slot’s the early slot, the no budget, no frills slot. Low grade and high shame, the slot that no one wants. Welcome, to the ‘The Nine O’Clock Slot’”
The scene is set as you arrive; the Red Gallery has been transformed into a space where life meets death. As you enter the undertaker’s shop front your senses are assaulted with narrations of death beamed onto brick walls. This is where the journey begins.
The show tackles the subject through creative and what it calls ‘immersive’ theatre. As curtain time nears, a funeral procession, with pallbearers and all, pushes its way through the crowded foyer. We are the lone witnesses to the burials of the forgotten. Led through and down to the belly of the industrial space, we follow the voyage of four souls from life to death.
Based on the lives and deaths of four real occupants of a common grave, the script is well researched but at times can seem preachy as the vicar (Chu Omambala) spouts facts and figures about the cost of modern burial and the ‘truth’ of what it means to be put in a common grave. However, the actors pay tribute to their charges by delivering superbly emotive performances. The blow of these unflinchingly raw performances is overshadowed by the odd addition of song and dance numbers which seem to upset the rhythm of the show.
Forcing us to face not only the idea of death, Connor (Gary Cargill) an alcoholic dying a slow, lonely death in hospice care clings onto life. He is lonely. His actions in life have led him to outburst of anger and violence as he nears death, only the relationship he forges with his nurse, Kay (Thusitha Jayasundera) can restore his faith in humanity. His story is visceral and delves into the practicalities of what happens when we leave behind the shell of our existence.
But The Nine O’Clock Slot isn’t just about death; it compels you to contemplate life and what it means to live. Any of us could end up in that slot, the slot that no one wants, The Nine O’Clock Slot.
Runs Until: 19th April