Kansas Kicks the Can – And Kills It!

Published by Wayves volunteer 05/09/14


     Jane Kansas rises to the occasion of her own funeral

by Garry Williams

It was my pleasure to be part of the standing-room-only crowd queuing to attend Jane Kansas' autobiographical joyride 'My Funeral: the dry run', an Atlantic Fringe show I highly recommend. Almost a one-woman show (with a little help from Hugo Dann, Joni Mitchell – well, actually Tara Thorne in a brilliant homage/parody – Jackie Torrens, Jane Wright, and Lis van Berkel in situ via projections), this profoundly comedic monologue runs under an hour, which seems to fly by, spans a lifetime, and rarely lags – and then only, on occasion, navigating the projections. 

With careful, gentle dramaturgy by Hugo Dann and tech support by Kenny Lewis, this deceptively simple and deliciously literate script is a paean for imperfection. Just as one's funeral (and life) cannot pan out precisely as planned, so is this production beautiful and unexpected in its authenticity. A string of colourful lights, a cot serves as childhood bed and coffin, a binder, an urn, audience interactions, post-show sandwiches and squares complement the deftly layered and immensely entertaining text that juggles themes of Travel, Time, and Memory. 

Kansas sure-handedly creates a world in which a moment can encompass a thousand years, a decade plus fly by in an instant, lies are true, and the detour is the destination. This tight and fast-paced production delivers innumerable laughs and a few achingly well-observed truths. Fuelled by Jane's rough vulnerability and wry humour, a superlative craftsmanship and admirable candour drive this production madly towards its beautiful and poetic denouement. Kansas' persona, as both protagonist and playwright, brings 'My Funeral: the dry run', exquisitely, to life. 

The story Kansas shares makes exultant, engaging theatre. Her premise is clear, wonderfully imagined, decidedly frank, vehemently unpretentious, and quintessentially queer. As the full house gushes onto Gottingen Street from the new, intimate Fringe venue (((Parantheses Gallery))), I am reminded of Yevtushenko's poem 'People', in which he shares with Jane a lament for private moments lost: "Not people die but worlds die in them/… The secret worlds are not regenerated." In 'My Funeral: the dry run', Kansas triumphantly breathes life into a private world, and generates, for us, an opportunity to glimpse into this remarkable artist's life and art. 

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