Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"The Last of Us" - May 2008

Pamela Carter's "The Last of Us" as part of Oran Mor's 'A Play, A Pie and a Pint' programme puts an interesting new spin on 'staying together for the sake of the kids'. It presents us with 'Chew' and 'Ming', potentially the last two Yangtze river dolphins in existence and asks us to consider their competing responsibilities - to themselves and the future of their species. On paper it sounds a bit 'out there' but it works surprisingly well.

It's helped by a rather differently set up Oran Mor than usual. Staged in-the-round with a catwalk style raised platform in the centre it allows the play to be almost as much about movement as dialogue. An effective soundscape reminds us that we're underwater, although it could benefit from a little more creative lighting.

David Ireland's cautious and intellectual 'Chew' has been alone for some time before he meets Mary Gapinski's 'Ming' who although low in self esteem has more of a sense of adventure. Both Ireland and Gapinski do well in portraying their dolphin characters while also cleverly allowing the mask to slip at times revealing more familiar human relationships.

It's more wry smiles than laugh-a-minute material but there's plenty here to entertain, and the dolphins' sense of superiority over pandas is a genuine highlight. At around 40 minutes it's shorter than the usual 50 minute plays that form Oran Mor's season - perhaps it could have done with an added 10 minute final scene giving the slandered pandas a righty of reply.

"The Last of Us" runs at Oran Mor until Saturday 24th May

Image by Leslie Black used with permission

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