Tag Archives: Katy Morison

A Dead Body in Taos

A Dead Body in Taos


Wilton’s Music Hall

A DEAD BODY IN TAOS at the Wilton’s Music Hall


A Dead Body in Taos

“Rachel Bagshaw’s direction moves the action backwards and forwards with an efficient pace and energy, but we do occasionally get bogged down in explanation”


“When they called saying your body had been found, I had one immediate thought. I remember thinking that maybe now I’d be free”. These are the first words that Sam (Gemma Lawrence) speaks to her mother Kath (Eve Ponsonby) in over three years. Sam has just arrived in the small town of Taos in the New Mexico desert to identify the body. The freedom to which Sam is referring is obviously emotional rather than physical as there seems to have been little communication between mother and daughter up to this point. Nevertheless, Sam would still be seeking some sort of closure, and conversations with the deceased are often consoling.

Not so for Sam. She’s not talking to a corpse, but a mechanical representation of her mother aged thirty-five, into which her mother’s memories, emotions and biographical data have been uploaded. But sadly, not a lot of her personality. Artificial Intelligence has been taken to its technological, moral and unsettling extreme and we are invited to question the nature of death and human consciousness. But before we have much of a chance, we are whisked back to Kath’s student days where there is much talk about the 1968 protests, Vietnam, Cambodia and changing the world. In writer David Farr’s world, it is peopled with caricatures whose urgency and fervour seem to be being lampooned. The link to the present is a touch tenuous, but on the stage the two settings are constantly rubbing shoulders with each other in the revolving doors of a confusing narrative. We are not really sure where to invest our interest.

The dichotomy suits Sam though. Gemma Lawrence is a very watchable presence, particularly when she begins to thaw and engage with her mother’s posthumous identity. Initially outraged, she warms to the idea and we, in turn, warm to the general theme of the piece. Farr explores the flip side of Artificial Intelligence. The Future Life Corporation, where Kath is recreated, focuses on the ‘unintelligence’. The flaws that make us human. It’s not just about synthesising data, but also the false hopes, the self-delusion; the layers of deception inherent in us all. The mess and the chaos. And the unspoken love.

It is a very wordy, and at times worthy, play. Rachel Bagshaw’s direction moves the action backwards and forwards with an efficient pace and energy, but we do occasionally get bogged down in explanation. The use of surtitles is questionable and sometimes distracting and unnecessary. The performances cannot be faulted. Eve Ponsonby’s Kath seamlessly flits from her ardent past to the robotic present, and Clara Onyemere’s portrayal of Tristana Cortez – the humanely pragmatic supervisor at the Future Life Corporation – is one of the highlights of the evening.

The crux of the issues remains unanswered – as they probably always will be. “How do you create a person who has no idea who they are?” asks Cortez. “A Dead Body in Taos”, despite containing some insightful dialogue, doesn’t quite know what it is either. Like some of the scenes there are too many voices vying to be heard. We long to have our focus tied to a stronger lead. Perhaps that is the reason behind the surtitles after all.


Reviewed on 27th October 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Helen Murray


Wilton's Music Hall thespyinthestalls


Previously reviewed at this venue:


Roots | ★★★★★ | October 2021
The Child in the Snow | ★★★ | December 2021
The Ballad of Maria Marten | ★★★½ | February 2022
Starcrossed | ★★★★ | June 2022
Patience | ★★★★ | August 2022



Click here to read all our latest reviews


Exodus – 4 Stars



Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 5th November 2018


“explores themes such as austerity, immigration, suicide and depression in a sensitive, thought-provoking way”


Set in South Wales on the eve of the demolition of the last factory in town, Exodus follows four friends as they build a plane in order to escape their town in search of a better life. Although, for the most part, a humorous play, Exodus explores themes such as austerity, immigration, suicide and depression in a sensitive, thought-provoking way.

Characters include Mary (Gwenllian Higginson), Ray (Liam Tobin), Gareth (Berwyn Pearce) and Timmy (Karim Bedda). Tobin and Pearce provide the majority of the comedy in the show, as Ray and Gareth, bouncing off each other well. They can have a tendency to be slightly overpowering and loud in the small theatre space, but it can’t be denied that both actors bring high levels of enthusiasm to their roles. Bedda portrays Timmy, a refugee who never speaks, but is a talented violinist, showing this by frequently performing live throughout the play. Whilst the other three characters are able to express themselves through speech, Bedda effectively performs through the playing of his instrument, which acts as his character’s voice and story.

Running alongside the plot of the building of the plane and preparations for the flight is Mary’s individual story, depicting town life and the struggles faced. Higginson does a fantastic job of engaging the audience throughout and is able to display a range of emotions extremely well. The transitions between the scenes with all four actors to Higginson’s monologues are seamless, with the remaining actors sitting down in sync and staring ahead, motionless. This adds to our engagement with what the character of Mary goes on to say and allows our focus to be solely on her.

Movement, directed by Emma Vickery, is brilliantly executed. A particular highlight is a sequence in which the group undertake “training” to deal with the possibility of thunderstorms during their flight, where lighting design by Katy Morison, as well as the violin music, enhances the scene further.

Exodus is, on the surface, a comedy. However, in reality, it’s much more than that. Universal themes are explored and, although set in Wales, this is a play that could be set pretty much anywhere in the UK. The cast and creative team, well led by writer and director Rachael Boulton, must be congratulated for the effort that has clearly gone into a production that’s both entertaining and moving.


Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Tom Flannery



Finborough Theatre until 20th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Imaginationship | ★★ | January 2018
Into the Numbers | ★★★★ | January 2018
Booby’s Bay | ★★★★ | February 2018
Cyril’s Success | ★★★ | February 2018
Checkpoint Chana | ★★★★ | March 2018
Returning to Haifa | ★★★★ | March 2018
White Guy on the Bus | ★★★★ | March 2018
Gracie | ★★★★ | April 2018
Masterpieces | ★★ | April 2018
Break of Noon | ★½ | May 2018
The Biograph Girl | ★★★ | May 2018
Finishing the Picture | ★★★★ | June 2018
But it Still Goes on | ★★★★ | July 2018
Homos, or Everyone in America | ★★★★ | August 2018
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018
A Funny Thing Happened … | ★★★★ | October 2018
Bury the Dead | ★★★★ | November 2018


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