Last Dream (On Earth)
Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow
At Mareel, Shetland, April 15 &
Eden Court, Inverness, April 18
Reviewed by Mark Brown
Britain’s mainstream political discourse on migration, complete with those Labour Party “controls on immigration” coffee mugs, seems to owe more to the fevered exclamations of Nigel Farage than to a reasoned and compassionate consideration of the movement of people around our troubled planet. It is timely, therefore, that stage-designer-turned-theatre-maker Kai Fischer, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Tron Theatre should offer us Last Dream (On Earth).
Played by a cast of five fine performers, who are seated before microphones, the work brings together evocations of the desperate journeys of sub-Saharan African migrants seeking refuge in Europe with the historic voyage into space of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. For the audience, who hear the dialogue and music on headsets, the parallels between these two events may not seem immediately apparent, but as the script (conceived by Fischer, and developed by him and the cast) unfolds, the humanistic logic becomes clear.
Like Gagarin, the migrants are going into the unknown as they attempt the perilous journey from Morocco to Spain, across the busy shipping lane that is the Strait of Gibraltar, in a rubber dingy. Like Gagarin, they know that their voyage is very likely to lead to their deaths.
As the parallel narratives interweave with an appropriately African-cum-global musical score, the emotional intensity of the piece increases. That the political implications also expand without a trace of polemic is testament to Fischer’s deftness of touch.
Given that Fischer is, first-and-foremost, a designer, the show is curiously, and bravely, light on visuals (there are a few understated projections). Very much like a radio play for the stage, it gets to the anguished heart of the story of migration from Africa to Europe in a way that puts most of our politics and journalism to shame.
This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on April 12, 2015
© Mark Brown