One Bad Day is the latest total immersive theatre piece (by phone) by my friend Stepy Kamei (who played the title character in my adaptation of Carmilla: The Radio Play). Her previous, about the great poet Sylvia Plath, was among my top ten of 2022.
This one contains another interesting premise behind it, but also a phone call with someone near the end of their life. Someone who is now famous, sadly, for her death more than anything else. More, it came at a startling time in American history. Astronauts had landed on the Moon mere weeks earlier. In the wake of what happened, the war in Vietnam became many times worse, followed by the Watergate Scandal which rocked American trust in our government to the foundations.
This person was Sharon Tate.
An actress of some talent, she appeared a variety of films including The Fearless Vampire Slayers and Valley of the Dolls. She married Roman Polanski and they were expecting a child together when members of a cult called "The Family" headed by Charles Manson broke into their Benedict Canyon home and killed everyone there (except for a caretaker who was in the guest house, and heard nothing). It was a shocking, horrific crime followed by others. The investigation and trial can be read about in the non fiction book Helter Skelter and at least two different films more or less based on it.
But this experience focuses on Tate, on this very optimistic and happy person, someone charming and kind and generous. Kamei brings this person to life, not in a cloying sort of hallmark movie way, but simply as a person who was like that. A breath of emotional fresh air amid cynicism. She was someone I wanted to spend more time with, an anodyne against angst and despair.
But of course, I also knew what was going to happen to her. And that was horrible.
I was actually alive when these events happened, but was a child. For me, it was very much like a trip back in time. And it felt like exactly that, to the point where I felt shaken at the end, and more than a bit disturbed--a fine a testimony to the power of a performance as one could ask for.
One Bad Day is part of Nothing in the Dark Productions, As of this writing there are still performances scheduled for Jan 25 through 27, January 31 through February 3, and February 7 through February 10, 2023.