Mariam @ 'I Hear You and Rejoice' - A life lost is typically a life well-lived

What’s it about?

An Irish man going on with life after the death of his beloved wife.

Writer’s note: I (Houssaynatou Barry) gave my ticket to a close friend of mine after I found out that I would not be able to make it to the performance. This post is written by Mariam Barry (and no, we are not related).

Mariam’s experience.

When I found out I was going to see I Hear You and Rejoice I was excited because this was going to be my very first Off-Broadway show! The stage was empty except for a chair. Once the lights dimmed, writer and performer Mikel Murfi appeared on stage and began his solo act, which lasted 80 minutes uninterrupted.

The main characters of his story are Kitty and her husband Pat, who happen to be complete opposites. Kitty is loud, outspoken, energetic and strong, while her husband Pat is mute and going blind. It was obvious that after being together for so long the couple knew each other really well. Kind of like when it comes to my parents, they know what buttons not to push but they push them anyway because it brings excitement to the relationship.

Then we move on to the death of Kitty and her perfectly planned funeral and wake. When I say perfectly, I mean it: from the bouquets of flowers to the way she will be positioned in the casket. It’s funny how funerals differ from culture to culture. In my culture (Guinean) our funerals do not involve a wake, casket, flowers or pretty much anything ‘traditional.’ We simply wrap the deceased in white cloth and put the person in the ground without a casket. Graves are never marked, but instead a stick and some leaves are placed above. This is to ensure that no one except the family of the deceased is aware of where the body is located.

Others characters Mikel plays are a pastor and Kitty and Pat’s friends and neighbors. I thought it was pretty impressive that he was able to play all those characters as if he had multiple personalities, from changing the way he spoke to making the stage feel like we were in another setting. We were immediately brought to Kitty’s funeral, who left strict instructions on how she wanted her service. Though death is inevitable, I find it quite hard to plan your own funeral. That should solely be left up to your family, at least if they have good intentions on sending you off the proper way. But Kitty wanted the wake to represent her personality and her life. As the play goes on, we get a glimpse of Kitty’s life. We see she was an aggressive football fan and neighbor, but also a hardworking woman who made the town bright with her energy and boldness.

A life lost is typically a life well-lived. I look at funerals as something not sad but a celebration of a great life. I look forward to the Guinean send-off my family and friends will give me. I expected to see a sad play since it was based on a funeral, but instead it ended up exceeding my expectations and was nothing short of funny and exciting.

Houssaynatou’s note: I am so happy my friend was able to see the show and it is even more special to me that it was her first Off-Broadway show. I see this opportunity of being a writer at PXP as a way to open other people’s eyes to the beauty of theatre.

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