'Sorry For Your Loss' review - a heartfelt examination of grief
Read our four-star review of Sorry For Your Loss, the latest stage production from Audible Theater that uses comedy to examine how to navigate grief.
In 2019, comedian Michael Cruz Kayne posted a tweet that went viral. It was a heartfelt, harrowing thread about the loss of his newborn son, Fisher, on the 10th anniversary of his death. The overwhelming response to the tweet inspired Kayne — a writer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert — to pen the one-man show Sorry For Your Loss. The 75-minute show, the latest stage production from Audible Theater, provides a lesson on how to navigate grief and offer support beyond platitudes. Most of all, it’s a love letter to Fisher.
Upon entering the stage, Kayne affirms the show is a comedy, but warns there will be long stretches without laughter. The most humorous bits are when Kayne recalls experiencing temporary blindness after overeating cheese and when he tried to impress his now-wife with a Groupon skydiving excursion. The longest stretch without laughter is when Kayne reveals the source of his obsession over grief and chronicles the days after his son’s death at the neonatal intensive care unit.
Under Josh Sharp's direction, the material is expertly organized. An introductory scene mimics a standup set as a callback to Kayne’s start in comedy. In this bit, Kayne introduces himself to the audience and shares how he went from studying musical theatre at New York University to finding success as a comedian.
As a nod to Kayne’s background as a math and English tutor, the rest of the show takes the shape of an engaging lesson plan. Kayne uses two rolling whiteboards and a lectern to deliver lessons on phonetics, quantum physics, and history that all tie into the universal experience of bereavement. “Grief was not always so isolated,” he shares before diving into a lesson on how science increased lifespans and impacted the collective experience of loss.
The show is a meditation on existentialism — and it is painfully sad. Kayne carefully shepherds the audience into the heavy material and provides beats of silence for processing. After he shares what he says is the worst sentence in the world, “My son is dead,” he offers an opportunity for audience members to exit the theatre if they so choose.
Despite the topic, the charismatic Kayne finds moments of levity to lift the energy. He artfully inserts buttons of humor after intense stories. After recalling the process of planning his son’s funeral, he breaks into laughter when describing the funeral receipt that read “Thank you come again.”
Like other Audible Theater shows, the stage design is minimal since the performance will live on in audio form, but it’s impactful. There’s a stool and a big screen in front of the Minetta Lane Theatre’s back brick wall. There are also rows of pendant lights (lighting design is by Cha See) that hang above Kayne. The lights undulate at the end in a beautiful display of the wave-particle duality theory in quantum physics. Facts and lesson titles appear on the screen, along with photos of Kayne’s smiling wife and adorable children. The projections (by Aaron Rhyne) help focus the audience.
But the most powerful image that remains with me from my performance is seeing a pregnant person sobbing at the curtain call. If you're looking for an evening of pure comedy, this isn't it, but it is an evening of catharsis.
Throughout the show, Kayne repeats the line, “You think things are one way, but they can also be another way.” It's an apt description of how Sorry For Your Loss oscillates between comedy and tragedy.
Photo credit: Michael Cruz Kayne in Sorry For Your Loss. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
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