In the play, The Hanging Man, a man dangles above the stage in a noose. He wants to die, only to discover that death doesn’t want him.
The Hanging Man was premiered by the theatre troupe Improbable in early 2003 in England and has since toured the world. The man in the play will finally get his wish -“ the quest for death -“ when the show finishes for good at the end of its upcoming Sydney season.
Speaking from her home in London, performer Catherine Marmier says the Improbable group is ready to bid the play farewell.
We are going to bury The Hanging Man in Sydney -“ yes, his time has come, the Swiss-born Marmier says. Actually, this is the first time we have performed the play in two years, so it will be nice to do it again one more time before sending him on his way.
In The Hanging Man, an architect’s new cathedral is acclaimed as his greatest work. Believing he can never live up to his past, he decides suicide is his only option.
When he attempts to kill himself, however, he finds that death has gone on strike. We create a world where we look at what it would be like to want death rather than be scared of it, Marmier says.
Death is something no one ever wants to talk about, but in this play, death responds by saying, -˜Don’t ignore me too much or I will go away.’
One of the characters Swiss-born Marmier plays is an army general who bemoans the fact she can no longer do her job. When the show first toured the United States in early 2003, it was at the time of the invasion of Iraq, and met with some opposition.
It was very controversial at the time, and some people were uneasy, she recalls. There was disapproval, but there were others who saw it was not just about war, but about everyone who is facing death -“ and that is all of us at some point of life.
Marmier also says she is excited to be travelling to Sydney, not only to perform the play for the last time, but also to see the family of her partner, Ali, a producer with the BBC in London.
Marmier first travelled with Ali to Sydney a year ago to visit her family-in-law.
Ali is English, but her grandmother immigrated to Sydney 40 years ago, so we came to visit. It is such a beautiful city, but I didn’t get to see much theatre, she says.
Your city is about being outside, so that is where we spent most of our time.
The Hanging Man plays at the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House from 6 May. Bookings on 9250 7777.