Grief Lightning: A Satire in 78 Slides

Playing at Fokus Creatives, The Bakehouse, and online in Feb/March as part of the 2021 Adelaide Fringe.

Blurring high and low culture, Grief Lightning mimics the form of a lecture in which an enigmatic academic argues that the 1978 film Grease is actually a story about paradise and death.

Grief Lightning is a new satirical performance that is part-theatre, part-standup, and part-PowerPoint Presentation.

Drawing on a popular internet theory, the lecturer suggests that Sandy drowns in the opening beach sequence of Grease. The lecturer attempts to convince their audience that, in order to properly appreciate the film, we must interpret all of the subsequent action as Sandy’s heavenly “coma fantasy” of what her life could have been.

Over the course of 13 scenes, 78 slides, and a flood of custom animations, the lecture warps. Lost in a storm of conspiracy, the lecturer drags the audience down into a world of wigs, jackets, and surreal projection.

In this postmodern journey through film, music, Reddit, and academia, Grief Lightning explores ideas of pop culture, and obsession.

Most importantly, Grief Lightning interrogates the heteronormativity and the gender politics of this iconic film. Grief Lightning asks: “if the coma theory is true -if Grease really is nothing more than a hallucination of a perfect adolescence- is Sandy’s narrative really the best we can hope for?”.

This work has been assisted by The Helpmann Academy and the South Australian Government through Carclew.

|| Poster Design: Caitlin Moore || Photography: Matthew Steen ||

Grief Lightning uses content from the 1978 film Grease and posts made on Reddit.com in order to offer commentary and critique of this subject matter. This is done for the purposes of parody and satire. The use of this content is done as a fair dealing. The views expressed in Grief Lightning are not endorsed by Paramount Pictures Corporation, by anyone associated with Grease, or by any entity mentioned in the script.