Review: The Last Hour – The Butterfly Club (VIC)

Written by Abbey Hanson, Directed by Emily Tambree

Review by Lillian Gerlach

The Last Hour follows two Gods at the end of the Universe; they have been everything, experienced everything, and known everything. But, they only have an hour left before they experience the one thing that is truly unknowable – death, nothingness. The play shows them grappling with what will happen to them. What might death feel like? What happens after? Will they even be aware of what happens after? Or will they just fade away, their consciousness simply ended? 

The script didn’t follow a narrative in the way one would expect – we knew we were approaching some sort of end, but no plot points spurred us in our journey. This meant the dialogue moved through different concepts (rather than action) in a looping, stream of consciousness style. This flow allowed the audience to engage with the play but also take time to reflect on our own experiences, taking a step back from the dialogue. However, the writing kept reeling us back in with well-timed and delivered jokes. This brought the audience back from our existential thoughts to the performance in front of us.

The actors, while beautifully and genuinely tapping into very intense emotions and carrying each other delicately through the space – were limited to simply standing and floating around the space. There was not much movement of the bodies, and the stage was very still which meant that the performance felt quite slow at times. I could not feel the director, Emily Tambree’s, hand in the piece very much – it felt like our actors had been left to their own devices without much of a guiding vision. Added to this, there was no set – an empty stage with black curtains and the costumes were completely black too.

When dealing with such existential content I found it hard to focus as there was nothing to look at apart from how beautifully the costumes were draped on the actors. The only relief from this all-black visage was the beautiful blue, pink and ever-changing lighting which was focussed on the roof above the actors and on their faces. In a way, this really worked as it did feel like we were reeling through a black universe with these characters.

The script was well crafted by Abbey Hanson and managed to tackle very broad themes in a genuine and curious way, and Emma Jevons and Anthony Pontonio were so comforting as characters Them and They respectively. They felt at times like petulant children, and others like familiar lovers, and cared a lot about each other and the words they were delivering. This production clearly had a lot of love at it’s heart, and I am very excited to see how it develops in the future.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Last Hour is entering a development phase so keep an eye on Tart Theatre Collective for future performance dates. Digital versions are also to be made available.

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