intense and exciting... a flawless performance

— REVIEW of ‘Everybody Loses…’ | Ceredigion Herald

Everybody Loses | Review

A performance about how a snake bite leads to death was very well received by members of the audience at Aberystwyth Arts Centre last Thursday (Nov 23).

Everybody Loses’, brought by international production company Doppelgangster, provided a very intense and exciting account into how one man experiences death from a snake bite. It was an impeccably detailed documentation which illustrated the stages of how a fatal bite affects a person’s mental state.

The flawless performance was carried out by Dr Tom Payne, a lecturer in Performance Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and Co-Director General of Doppelgangster.

In an impressive one man show, Dr Payne set the dark scene and took the audience on a journey of suffering and death.

The performer drew on the true, self-documentation death of world famous herpetologist Dr Karl Patterson Schmidt.

Karl Patterson Schmidt died in 1957 after he was bitten by a young boomslong snake at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

He held the snake in an unusual way and consequently it bit him on the hand, which resulted in him creating his ‘death diary’.

The bite caused him to die within one day and even though he did not realise he was going to die, he documented every detail of his pain and suffering before passing away.

He even refused medical attention due to fearing it would interfere with the symptoms he was experiencing.

Observing how brilliantly ‘Everybody Loses’ reflected on historical accounts of the religious ritual of Snake Handling and explored the societal obsessions with eternal youth, eternal life and the destruction of our planet was extremely intriguing.

Everybody Loses‘ presented the audience with many thought-provoking themes and Dr Payne provided a convincing performance which allowed the audience to experience the gruesomeness of a snake bite and death vicariously.

The performance gave the opportunity for the ‘death diary’ to be brought to life from paper, and the way in which Dr Payne delivered Dr Schmidt’s words was captivating.

With video clips playing in the background representing suffering, which enhanced the suspense, ‘Everybody Loses‘ kept the audience on their toes in the best way possible.

Doppelgangster (UK/AUS) are an international performance company creating iconoclastic, politically charged entertainment.

Critiquing contemporary issues at local, national and global levels, and responding to urgent concerns such as climate change, migration and the effects of corporatism, Doppelgangster’s work traverses unconventional spaces, using intimate face-to-face encounters, large scale spectacles, and online environments.

‘Everybody Loses: The Death Diary of Karl Patterson Schmidt’ is the fourth full-length performance work by Doppelgangster, and was first trialled as a ten-minute performance at Hot!Hot!Hot! Festival of Climate Arts in Melbourne in 2016.

“intense and exciting… a flawless performance.”