The Last Eden is a new play by a new theatre company – and it sets its heights high. It tells the story of a futuristic world, where in the desperation of a scorched earth the haves and have nots are at deadly extremes.
Our protagonist is Lala (Nicola Wilson, pictured), who lives in the underground ghettos with her delirious sick mother (another fine tragicomic performance from the wonderful Helen Foster). Never seeing the sun and fighting to survive, life down below can’t go on. Lala’s mother tells her a tale of Eden and inspires her to find it among the horror, where ‘nightcrawlers’ lurk (to wonderfully menacing effect), and mobs rule.
On her journey she meets a boy — a Daywalker, the supposed elite, and you can guess what happens next. The script relies on a few familiar devices to move the plot along, and plays out like a mix of Orwell’s 1984 and Bladerunner. It is almost cinematic, stylistically – and just when I was considering myself clever for noticing, at the end, instead of the cast taking a bow, rolling credits were projected onto the set.
Walking into the venue is simply a treat – you won’t have seen this kind of inventive, inspiring set design since the Everyman closed its doors, and that’s exciting it itself. It is a maze of wooden pallets that serves as everything from the slums to the very tree of life. The costumes, too, were of an exceptionally good standard. With a high quality ambient soundtrack (by Tom Ashbrook of the band 6ix Toys) and video projections, it was clear a lot of time and a lot of thought had gone into making this show look the business.
The Last Eden is earnest (very earnest) and thought provoking; it also takes the risk of talking faith, although God in the future is a She. Despite its familiarity in parts, it benefits from a well-written, well fleshed out script from Maria Swisher, punctuated with some strong performances. The production wears its heart on its sleeve, and is a charmer despite being as subtle as a sledgehammer with its message. Its intentions are good, so of course you end up wanting things to work out in the end.
This reviewer won’t rave about the Kazimier as a venue; it smells a bit funny, the toilets are minty, you have to keep your coat on indoors whatever time of year, and its vintage hipster chic gives me the creeps. But I go willingly, because every show I’ve seen there has been of a particularly high standard, including The Last Eden. Remarkably, people still seem to know it for its club and music nights more its performance programme, which can’t really seat more than one hundred people at a time. This makes it a particularly special place for theatre, especially when there are ambitious companies out there like Dirt [contained] aiming so high. Check it out.
The Last Eden runs at the Kazimier until September 22 (Thursday).
Photo: Jamie Clarke