It wasn’t the subject matter which put me off, it was the singing. I’ve never liked musicals, not even supposed comedy ones, the songs always seem contrived, the melody sadly lacking in favour of the words which only serve to further the story or punch line. But I was pleasantly surprised by the catchy tunes by Tom Parkinson in a Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer sung by the cast of Complicite and the beautiful voice of Naana Agyei-Ampadu along with a wonderful cast and a touching performance from Amanda Hadingue. In fact some of them are still going around in my head. The refrain ‘my poor, poor body’ that particularly resonated as it evoked the care we feel surge in ourselves when our body enters the ‘Kingdom of the Sick’ as defined by Susan Sontag.
The book, a Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer by Bryony Kimmings and Brian Lobel translated into a stage production by the wonderful Complicite (having seen nearly every production by Complicite, it was one of the reasons I was keen to see this) and it is a very heartfelt and honest production. Certainly a brave attempt to expose the many unspoken aspects of cancer that patients recognise as so familiar yet so hidden.
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