The Last One
Aug 14-19, 21-22 (18.30)
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
The great space of The Summerhall venue offered the promise of wide ranging theatre, as the three actors, Gema Galiana, Anthony Nikolchev and Julian Sandoval stood poised to begin. Galiana, from Spain, formed The Useless Room in Los Angeles along with Californian Niklechev. They are joined for this extraordinary performance by fellow Californian Sandoval. The show begins with Galiana crawling across the stage playing with a feather, while the two guys stand before a bucket filled with rocks balanced by a single piece of stone. An intriguing introduction which immediately had me wondering what I had let myself in for, and what it would mean to me.
As Gema continued to play with her feather, keeping it in the air by blowing on it, we were informed by a quiet voice on a mic, that the depiction was of a pigeon. The momentum grew and the thought was put forward that pigeons have a poor image, but that they might be treated more fairly had they been more beautiful. The scene progressed with Gema following Sandoval around the stage grappling hold of him and hugging him each time he moved away. Her movement moved us as she danced in her bare feet striking us in her singular beauty. This was to be an existential play in the face of the totality of existence wherever it may be. It takes a dying breath to realise anything, perhaps.
In the Artificial mystery and beauty scene the two men huddled together laughing brashly. They realised that artistic expression was a scam, which was a great way of putting it. In posh voices they found no sense to beauty highlighted by metaphysical anxiety, they laugh again. Gema smacks the feather on the mic creating a dull thud. As a fight breaks out the choreography breaks out too, they fight like a dance. At the top of a ladder she blows feathers into the air having spoken very little save some heavy breathing, she enacts in silence. When she speaks, in a gorgeous flamboyant Spanish accent, it was to contribute to the star of the show; the pigeon.
She grieves at the loss of art, then; her laughter bursts from her at the same time through its revealed absurdity. They pile the rocks on top of each other trying to clamber to its small peak but each time they do the rocks crumble their effort having been for all to see. Have you heard of the o’o bird, it’s a Hawaiian bird said to be The Last One of its kind with therefore a song that waits for an answer that will never come! She crawls across the stage once more, chewing gum is a tombstone for pigeons.
“The important thing is that we are still standing, and we haven’t become cowards or cannibals”, a quote from Roberto Bolana. As Gema spreads herself over the new pile of rocks the two men pour buckets of soil over her repeatedly; “To die alone is not unique”, It’s only lonely to die alone.” The stage darkens, timely and abruptly, they bow and the stage was hurriedly tidied looking like part of the show. In the silence of the final scene we were left longing for more. I can only describe this play as a must see – surreal, and yet a compelling questioning of our everyday lives.