Gravesongs staged by the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s intern company in ETC’s main theatre is one of the most polished and accomplished shows of the Festival. It’s surely in my top 5 at this point.
This is a series of meditations on death, narrated either by the dead themselves or by the dying. The show is remarkable not only for its balance between tones of mournfulness and comedy, but also for its underlying Jewish perspective on death–both in the focus on the Jewish and non-Jewish cemeteries and the deemphasis of the afterlife from what we see in many plays. Instead of going to heaven, the dead come to life to tell their stories from their graves… or wherever they have come to rest. There is a suggestion to believe what gives you comfort about death, but above all, to remember those that we have lost. In a year where Cincinnati’s theatre scene has lost so many significant people, remembering is a welcome thing.