Kai Fischer heads up a brilliant creative team in staging Last Dream (On Earth): a masterpiece in live score, sound design and story, exploring the theme of setting off into the dangerous unknown.
Yuri Gagarin is about to become the first human being in space; and a young refugee stares across the sea from Morocco, hoping to escape to Europe. Two separate narratives are performed in parallel, weaving in and out of each other and merging with an immersive soundscape. The performance is all about sound, with the audience listening through headphones, bringing a closeness to each noise, from distorted guitar to subtle mouth pops and little tongue clicks, to the dialogue itself. As the tension in the simple stories build, projected visuals also add to the all-enveloping experience.
As Gagarin prepares for launch, you hear a re-performance of sections of the transcript from the original 1961 transmissions between his capsule and ground control. Though the words belong to these historical figures, the actors aren’t trying to ‘be’ the original characters. Instead they bring a freshness to the moment which manages to make it much more immediate. Both journeys, based on real stories, are risky and pioneering. Whilst one was the first of its kind, the other was a voyage done hundreds of times before. Those who attempted to cross the sea to Spain, however, faced such huge odds each time there no way of knowing it would be successful; this embarkation was just as unknown. The idea of it being successful is absurd – a toy rubber dinghy dissecting the world’s busiest shipping lane and avoiding armed border guards. We take it for granted that man can fly into space – but that was just as absurd an idea.
Although the stories themselves may not naturally fit in another setting, the whole production works well: a beautiful marriage between the concept by Kai Fischer, the sound design by Matt Padden, and music from Tyler Collins and Gameli Tordzro. There is little movement in the performance, but actors Ryan Gerald, Mercy Ojelade and Adura Onashile hold the audience’s attention fully with their sense of presence, making the piece absorbing.