The Last Straw @ Summerhall

Uneasy, if off-kilter piece of abstract theatre

Review by Grace Lavender | 14 Aug 2018

The Last Straw is an intense and abstract two-hander created by People Show, the UK’s oldest experimental theatre company. It addresses the hectic nature of everyday life, commenting on everything from fake news to politics to personal relationships.

Gareth Brierley and Fiona Creese both give stunning and diverse performances. The show itself is comprised of many short scenes which bleed into one another although they seem unrelated. These scenes range from the evocative to the banal, mood changes which create a sense of uneasiness among the audience. There are times when the characters seem to be friends or partners, and other times that they seem not even to hear each other, and to be performing completely independent scenes simultaneously.

Indeed, there is a sense of uneasiness throughout the entire performance, created partially by an odd pulsing, buzzing kind of music. The stage is strewn with white paper straw, and at times the characters bury themselves or each other in it. There is a door in the centre of the stage, although for the most part the characters move about it as if it is not there. At no point in this production is the audience made to feel comfortable or safe. Even the most commonplace encounters between the onstage pair seem to be slightly off-kilter or strange.

If you are a fan of abstract theatre, then this may be a show perfect for you. If not, however, then the lack of plot and character development may prove to be a problem. At certain times it feels as though the show is saying nothing, and that the point is somewhat lost. Overall however, The Last Straw is an engaging analysis of the disquieting nature of a life, which is saturated with fake news and social media frenzy.

The Last Straw, Summerhall (Demonstration Room), 3-26 Aug (not 13, 20), £12-£10

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