Last Life: A Shakespeare Play @ Greenside

Every year at the Fringe, there are countless Shakespeare productions. Last Life: A Shakespeare Play uses the frame of Shakespeare’s works to do something rather different

Review by Chris Dobson | 06 Aug 2019
  • Last Life: A Shakespeare Play

Three actors move in and out of the Bard’s plays in 50 minutes of sensual, captivating theatre. The theme is love, specifically the heterosexual love between a man (Mikaal Bates) and a woman (Esther Sophia Artner). So far, so generic. Writer and director Sara Fay George cleverly inserts an interesting new element into this dynamic, however: Khadija Sallet is Kismet, a mysterious figure who watches on as the man and the woman perform their eternal lines. A circle of salt entraps them in an invisible box from which they cannot escape.

The two semi-naked main leads display an electrifying chemistry. Forget your stereotypes of dry, stuffy Shakespearean productions: this is theatre at its hottest! Blending together theatre, song and dance, it’s a riveting production which, despite its lack of a conventional plot, remains remarkably cohesive. While the main theme is love, the shadow of death overhangs Last Life, as indicated by its title. Nor does it shy away from the darker sides of Shakespeare’s plays: misogynistic monologues are counterbalanced by the female lead’s subversive gender non-conformity.

Sallet deserves credit for her beautiful voice, although the other performers aren’t quite as good at singing. Last Life might not appeal to non-Shakespeare fans, but for those who love to lose themselves in a river of soliloquies, it’s great value for money, combining as it does numerous performances and plays, all in the space of less than an hour.

Last Life: A Shakespeare Play, Greenside (Infirmary Street), until 17 Aug (not 13), 6.30pm, £8-5