With Russian theatre troupe Derevo returning to the Fringe for their 20th year, much could and perhaps should be expected from their brand new piece Last Clown on Earth. A one-man show featuring founding member Anton Adasinsky in the title role, Last Clown features the usual mix of comedy and tragedy that defines Derevo, but unfortunately with only a fraction of the punch or emotional pathos and none of the cohesion necessary to hold an audience’s attention throughout.
The troupe are not known for their linear narratives, but in this latest offering, we have an even more disjointed storyline than ever before. Adasinsky shambles onto stage amongst the audience as a destitute beggar, forcing his way through the fourth wall to find a world in which he is apparently the sole survivor of the human race. After consulting with God and the Devil on how to proceed, the action then ping-pongs all over the place at a slow but increasingly unsteady pace.
One moment we are treated to a (very funny) re-enactment of the Temptation of Adam, the next a glue-sniffing Grecian driving a Ferrari is trying to sell us a piece of the sun. There’s surely some message in there somewhere about the destructiveness of the human psyche and the never-ending pursuit of material gain to the detriment of all else, but it’s drowned out by a barrage of incoherent and (at times) amateurish imagery. Adasinsky himself is typically charismatic and emotive in his role, but the script is excessively wayward and wandering, even for a Derevo performance.
In the run-up to this year’s Fringe, Adasinsky told The Wee Review that he laments the death of theatre in terms of edginess; soul; ambition. While no one can accuse Last Clown on Earth of lacking all three, it seems to have sacrificed cohesion and significance in favour of abstract emotion and symbolism. As a result, it leaves the theatre-goer feeling overly disorientated and unusually cold in the wake of a Derevo show.