He’s dead and it’s her job as an embalmer to prepare the body for his family’s final goodbye. She often imagines what each person’s life was like; today she doesn’t have to imagine. She knows him. When We Died is a striking new play about one woman’s choice to confront her trauma – faced with the body of the man who raped her, she tells her story on her terms. 

Written and performed by Alexandra Donnachie, the play follows one woman as she embalms a body and decides whether to tell the wife her truth about her husband. More about recovery and life than trauma and death, it is nonetheless sensitive in its depictions and discussions about issues that are not easy subjects to discuss. 

Carbon Theatre are working closely with Serenity, a sexual assault referral centre, who are offering advice and mentorship on the play’s content right up until the play opens. A Theatrical Trauma Specialist and a trained embalmer have also been onboard throughout development to provide experience and insight into the more visceral and biological processes of the body in death and in the aftermath of a sexual assault. 

Donnachie comments, This play has been in my brain – and in various different Word documents across two laptops – for nearly four years. Throughout those years, the societal backdrop that When We Died is set against has changed, mostly for the better, in ways I could never have imagined when I wrote the first draft in 2016. I am over the moon to finally get to stage the play When We Died has become at one of the most prestigious festivals in the theatre world’s calendar and as part of a team who have helped me grow the piece. 

When We Died is on at VAULT Festival (Cage), The Vaults, Leake St, London, SE1 7NN from 10th – Sunday 15th March. Times: 6.10pm, Sat matinee 3.10pm. Admission: £10. Phone: 0208 050 9241.