Playtime is over, and now that they’re on their own Dolly and Mister Bear can get back to their foul-mouthed ranting, drug-taking, suicide-attempting day. Dolly wants to die, and she is quite clear about that.
Over the 45 minutes of the piece, we look on as Dolly attempts on her own life in ways which range from immolation to asking an audience member to smash her china head with a gigantic (on the scale of a doll) dildo. Helen Monks’ (Dolly) performance of the character’s more or less surreal suicide attempts resonates with that of Maria de Meideros as Karenine Battavia in the 1996 film News From The Good Lord.
Dolly Wants To Die doesn’t directly explore the contentious topic of assisted suicide - but rather the difficulties faced by Generation Y within a saturated job market, leading them to move back with family (and their childhood toys) as they are not able to find work at the end of their education.
In both cases, that of the film and Dolly Wants to Die, the darkly comic repetition of the character’s failure to die points to questions of agency. While Dolly has been around for what she deems to be long enough, doesn’t have any internal organs and “no pension plan in sight”, she doesn’t find the help to die when and how she chooses.
Where medicalisation could be seen to promote longevity over quality of life, and in the austere contexts of cuts to disability allowances, our relationship to end-of-life choices is changing rapidly. Debates around assisted suicide ought to be nuanced, and opening up uncomfortable conversations around death and dying is a useful starting point to making considered decisions for ourselves and our loved ones. (LB)
Dolly Wants To Die is on at 16.10 at Underbelly Cowgate until August 28th. Hearing Loop available - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dolly-wants-to-die
Internet Movie Database entry on News from the Good Lord: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116081/
Article on the medicalisation of dying: http://www.bmj.com/content/324/7342/905.1
Information about Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20696006-being-mortal
Information on Liz Carr’s Assisted Suicide the Musical: http://notdeadyetuk.org/assisted-suicide-musical/
Guardian Article on cuts to disability benefits: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/29/employment-and-support-allowance-the-disability-benefit-cuts-you-have-not-heard-about