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Genre Bending

MCC's Mayer blends comedic and dramatic takes on death and funerals

As part of the Katherine & Friends festival of new plays running September 2-26 at The Directors Company, Stacy Mayer of the Manhattan Comedy Collective starred in a one-person show with some dark comedy touches, which she co-wrote (with Robert Charles Gompers), entitled, “The Funeralogues.”

Mayer’s show laughs at death although it really fits in the category of drama more than comedy. It begins with Mayer in character as herself at age 7, holding a funeral for her Barbie doll that was decapitated by her brother, presented as Mayer’s first evidence of an obsession with death and funerals.

This of course is more humor than drama, but another big set-piece within the hour-long show has Mayer playing herself and a military officer whom she’s swooning over at a funeral. One long portion of this is the officer recounting his job of breaking the bad news to families of soldiers killed in Iraq, in a particularly difficult instance of two sisters who both served and were killed during a bombing that took place while one was visiting the other. (Siblings have not normally been placed in the same units since World War II).

This portion of the show, and an ending that is a bit of a dramatic surprise as well, takes “The Funeralogues” out of the realm of pure comedy. One of the first reviews on Jester, of a Fringe Festival play called “Trash,” in August 2005, put forth the idea that a piece that seems like a drama could be a comedy in disguise, or its overall tone makes it one. Mayer has done the reverse, in that a very funny piece, that seems like a comedy, but really speaks to a dramatic purpose in the end.

Where Mayer melds comedy and drama best in “The Funeralogues” is another segment where she imagines first a reverent and glowing version of her own funeral service, followed by a more realistic one. It crystallizes what can be achieved if comedy and drama are skillfully blended.

  

   

     

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