A Festival of Sex, Love and Death: Buried Alive & Mortgage

28th Oct 2017

Main House - Pleasance London



A Festival of Sex, Love and Death

Theme: Death

In 1927 Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck adapted the poetry of his fellow countryman Gottfried Keller to produce the song cycle Lebendig Begraben which tells the story of a man who awakes to find he has mistakenly been buried. Firstly he panics and hopes that his girlfriend or a friendly grave robber will come to his rescue; then he begins to reminisce in his coffin about his childhood, youth and first love; finally he casts his soul into eternity in an acceptance of his fate.

James Joyce heard Buried Alive performed when he was living in Zurich in 1935 and declared Schoeck better than Stravinsky. He immediately sent out for a German dictionary so that he could translate the libretto into English. The premise of the novel Joyce was working on at the time, Finnegans Wake, bears an uncanny similarity: a man is prematurely laid to rest and wakes up to find himself in his coffin. Could Buried Alive have inspired one of the most famous novels of the 20th Century?

Buried Alive is performed in German with English surtitles by baritone Oskar McCarthy and pianist Rob Keeley.


Theme: Death

A furiously visceral show, Mortgage tells the unbearably tragi-comic story of the painfully abused and miserable short and boring life of Beatrice Gunta Mortgage - Stage Manager. Mortgage has allowed the last theatre on earth to burn down. Practical to a fault, she has decided to resurrect it out of the bones, skin and blood of living actors. And you have all been invited to the casting.

As if this is not hard enough Mortgage has now been possessed by the outrageous spirit of Paula Maxa: the greatest star of the Grand Guignol- the 'Theatre of Horror and Terror 'in the Paris of the inter-war years.

Paula Maxa was famed as the most brutally assassinated women in the history of theatre - Killed and dismembered over 10,000 times in over 60 different ways; Raped and buried alive over 5,000 times; Maxa was beloved by Bohemians and Bourgeoisie alike including the insane and brilliant Antonin Artaud. Maxa's tortured screams could make all of Pigalle vomit.

In this collaboration between Created a Monster and the David Glass Ensemble, Mortgage will attempt to overcome madness, misery and possession in a piece of dynamic new performance that explores a culture of managing art, hopelessness and the will to overcome all. Inspired by Peter Brook's notion of living and deadly theatre, Artaud's 'Theatre of Cruelty', magic, and sacrifice, 'Mortgage' will see Lecoq-trained performer Briony O'Callaghan, Gecko’s Georgina Roberts, and David Glass collaborate to create an inspiring, visually arresting and moving new work about the violent and necessary relationship between creation and destruction.


A Festival of Sex, Love and Death is a brand new, ten-day, multi-arts festival featuring an innovative and exciting programme of events: opera, cabaret, physical theatre, new writing and spoken word. The festival will form a melting pot of theatre-makers connected by the key forces that drive how we perceive and experience our lives: sex, love and death.

For more information, please visit

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Buried Alive:

Oskar McCarthy


Open/closeReviews and Quotations

Tinged with cool, gothic morbidity and with a deft, light and effective theatrical touch"
4 stars
London City Nights, Buried Alive 2016
Oskar McCarthy's bolshy Leporello stole the show with a performance of real vocal and physical power
Opera Now, Midsummer Opera's Don Giovanni 2016

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