Love and loss explored

Anya Tate-Manning performs in My Best Dead Friend. Photo: Peter Jennings

COMBINING the magic of storytelling and theatre, My Best Dead Friend is a show that comes straight from the heart.

Created by Anya Tate-Manning and Isobel MacKinnon, and performed by Tate-Manning, My Best Dead Friend explores loss and grief, the joy of friendship and how lucky we are sometimes.

Winner of the Best of Fringe at the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2018, the show is being performed in Invercargill as part of this year’s Southland Arts Festival.

Tate-Manning said they were very proud of the show, and they were looking forward to performing it in Southland.

“It’s the furthest south we’ve taken the show, which is exciting.”

She said the show was based on a true story.

“It’s about me and my friends when we finished high school in Dunedin and that sort of restlessness that comes with growing up in a small town. . . Feeling the kind of revolutionary spirit, but not really knowing what to do with it.”

Because part of the show was set in 1998, when Tate-Manning finished high school, it also featured a real range of music, she said.

“Part of it is also to do with my obsession with the Backstreet Boys and my friends didn’t reciprocate this type of music,” she said.

“They were more sophisticated and listening to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.”

She said she also included the as well to encapsulate the local vibe they grew up with, such as The Verlaines.

The other half of the show was a story about one of her high school friends who died suddenly in a car accident.

“Everything that we did when we were younger seems clearer. . . you realise how special the memories and the things you did together are.

“I wanted to make a show for our friend that we lost as well, to remember her and celebrate her, because actually she was really unique and amazing.

While the show was partly a tribute to someone she lost, Tate-Manning said it was important to make the show funny as well.

“It’s a comedy, because it’s about something so heavy.

“We wanted to make it light and sort of fun, which seems contradictory but for me it’s the easiest way to talk about anything.”

My Best Dead Friend, Repertory House, Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2, 8.15pm. Book at TicketDirect.

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