The Last Show Before We Die is a poignant tale of love, friendship and twitching corpses. Covering both the big stuff and the little, it takes an eclectic look at endings using vibrant physical theatre set to an excellent sountrack.
A quirky yet highly polished production, it opens dramatically with the protagonists Ell and Mary very literally starting from the finish. They rewind proceedings for the benefit of the audience and soon we learn that the duo are buddies, former partners and current housemates, with their lives very much woven together.
They are on a quest through pre-recorded interviews to investigate ideas around closure, including how something can be ended well and how people deal with it in a professional setting. Those approached for their views range from a five-year old to a midwife, from an addict to a climate change expert, not excluding Kevin the barber. Touchingly, one of the interviewees includes Mary’s grandfather as he considers his own end.
It’s a deodorant-busting, fast-paced performance which is executed imaginatively, and the sheer stamina of the cast is very impressive. The show resists the temptation to become saccharine, thanks in part to including enough crow impressions and jokes about acrid farts to not feel overly worthy.
As a highly stylised piece without a conventional plot, The Last Show Before We Die might not be for everyone. There are a good number of whimsical tangents which disrupts the focus, but this is part of the charm; had it been less well executed the play could have been tedious at points, but the dynamic between the two cast members becomes completely absorbing.
A fine example of Fringe theatre, there’s laughter, tears and a touching sense of profundity – as it ponders why we continue some things and end others, what that means for our relationships, and most of all why that makes us who we are.