It’s that time of year again, when that kid sitting behind you in lecture coughs on the back of your head for the billionth time. When you can’t understand that guy in your seminar because he has lost his voice (hopefully he’s the section asshole). And when your best friend can’t make it to Woads, not because she has too much work but because her nose is now literally a leaky faucet. That’s right: It’s flu season.
And when all of your friends are lying in bed suffering from one sickness or another, there’s nothing better to do than to mosey down to the Yale Cabaret to see “How We Died of Disease-Related Illness.” Written by Miranda Rose Hall DRA ’17, an MFA student at the Yale School of Drama, this absurdist comedy covers a variety of topics and parodies a broad spectrum of thought, institutions and ideologies. Fans of Adult Swim’s “The Eric Andre Show” and “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” will thoroughly enjoy this production.
With every single inch of the wall covered with hospital curtains, the Yale Cabaret seems cramped and claustrophobic. Other great touches to the set include a large gurney, a TV screen projecting multimedia images and ample amounts of hand sanitizer at each table, which I definitely utilized throughout the performance. Be prepared to come into contact with green tissue paper, questionable guacamole or even a severed hand.
Those in search of a heart-wrenching tale of woe or an intricate plot-based play should reconsider going. “How We Died of Disease-Related Illness” is all about the laughs that never stop coming. At its core, the play parodies the extreme paranoia and panic that characterizes reactions to global diseases such as Ebola or the current Zika virus. However, Hall also takes on the health care system, American exceptionalism, TV dramas, anti-vaxxers, allegorical messages and workout videos. As the production twists and turns, covering its many themes, you never know where it is going to head next.
One character, Trisha, stands out because she does not take part in the action of the play until the very end. During set-change interludes, she roams the audience in a variety of characters. Trisha works her way up the hierarchy at the hospital; she works as a janitor, assistant food-preparation technician, receptionist at the nurses’ station and intern deputy chaplain, among other jobs. Although she may seem unrelated to the plot at the beginning of the play, her jokes seamlessly weave into the production’s main themes.
The cast and crew capitalize on the element of surprise throughout the entire production. What will that prop actually be used for? When will a character reveal a secret? How could the play get any more ridiculous and insane? Bring your crazy and quirky friends and keep the ones who like everything to make sense at home, because in the middle of the production you are going to text whomever you came with, “WTF are we watching?”
Come see “How We Died of Diseased Related Illness” to find out what T.I.T.S. and C.L.I.T.S. actually stand for. Come if you want to know how to use the concept of the double flush as a metaphor for life. The characters in the play may be in quarantine, but you will certainly be sealed off from reality and sanity for one hour as you go down the rabbit hole in the Yale Cabaret’s newest production.