Chris Thorpe and Jon Spooner’s Am I Dead Yet? explores medical advances in resuscitation, largely through two interwoven narratives: the first of two policeman recovering the dismembered body of a man who stepped in front of a train; the second about a young girl who has fallen through an ice covered pond. The stories, told by Thorpe and Spooner in turn, illustrate situations where death is final (decapitation), and where due to the low temperature, it is recoverable. Throughout the show, the pair dissect the stories with songs and facts related to heart problems and even find time for a quick CPR lesson.
The storytelling elements are simply staged, the language and structure provide intrigue as the pair trade narration and dialogue with each other and the stand-up mic-in-hand delivery gives the accounts a true, anecdotal feel. By contrasting styles – the policemen’s tale is told with blackly comic repartee while the girl’s is solemnly spoken – they alleviate the sobriety of the subject and make the morbid themes entertaining. All the talk of death coupled with the duo’s demeanour (Spooner is jovial and boyish while Thorpe is fierce and earnest) you could almost be watching your own shoulder angel and devil, daftly explain your coronary issues to you, as you hallucinate in a hospital gurney.
However, while the stories are both well told, they are pretty much foregone conclusions from their beginnings and are a bit too stretched to fill the hour long performance. There are some interesting theoretical musings on what the future of medicine might hold but even with the musical padding, the show feels like it’s missing its hook. So although this is a well researched and very informative piece, it feels a little unfinished.