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Our Last First at The Space

In the round, or to be borderline pedantic, in the diamond, from my vantage point certain scenes were like watching a tennis match whilst sitting courtside close to the net, with A and B – or is it B and A (there’s no C, so anyone hoping for a quip about ‘C&A’ is going to be found wanting) – stood at opposite ends in conversation or otherwise having an argument. Some of the rallies, so to speak, go on for some time, with the energy and commitment the actors have when it came to delivering such convincing to-and-fros being rather impressive, if exhausting to watch.

Eoin Quinlan and Annie Loftus, Photo by LuluCam.
Eoin Quinlan and Annie Loftus, Photo by LuluCam.

The production has its reasons for not spelling out in the programme who plays A and B, or the supporting characters ‘Sibling’ and ‘Friend’ – there’s a seemingly randomised process that takes place at the start of the show to determine which of the four actors plays whom on the night. The aim, it would seem, is to champion diversity, and to demonstrate that love is love, or indeed that hatred is hatred, whoever we are and irrespective of any personal characteristics. But the casting itself does little to help underline this point, with the company being in a similar age bracket, and lacking any persons of colour.

At times, the plot felt like a box-ticking exercise, exploring various elements of a relationship as it develops. Awkward first date? Tick. Getting to know one another, meeting the parents, moving in together? Tick, tick, tick. Getting annoyed at each other after moving in because they have different ways of doing things, and limited storage space? Tick. It becomes apparent quite how conventional the narrative is: despite a surface commitment to being different, so much of it is broadly relatable, which goes some way to explaining why some in the audience at the performance I attended laughed heartily at the portrayal of relatively mundane activities, such as ordering drinks from a bar (yes, really) or assembling a chest of drawers.

There’s an emphasis on storytelling, with a desk so sparsely used you’d be forgiven for forgetting it was even there until someone finally finds a use for it in the final scene. A few props are carefully positioned, ready to go at the right moments, which added some nice touches to the proceedings but weren’t strictly necessary. The play does, at least, throw a proverbial curveball, introducing one of the characters as the writer of the love story being dramatized. In doing so, and in revealing they are unable or unwilling to tell the end of the story as both parties in the relationship know it to be (make what you will of repeatedly exclaiming “I can’t!”), the reliability of the narrator comes into question.

The show as a whole does, admittedly, flow well, though it could have done with a little trimming – as I understand it, it was a ninety-minute no-interval play in an earlier incarnation, and perhaps it should have retained that format. The interval does come, commendably, at a cliffhanger moment, and Katharine Hardman’s work as intimacy co-ordinator is worth mentioning, given that any combination of actors could be in playing either half of a couple. Despite the unusual setup and extra challenges the cast must – and do – overcome, there wasn’t anything in the show about love and the power of love that hasn’t been staged before.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Meet A & B. Watch as they go through the first and lasts of their relationship. With Friend and Sibling editing and affecting their journey along the way.

Except that isn’t where this play ends. Written without any pronouns, genders, names, ages, or physical description this play is designed to be played by any and every actor. But there’s another catch. Four actors walk onto the stage at the start of every show, and the roles are live cast. Every show is a unique combination, and a different love story. One night you will watch a couple deal with societies view on same sex marriage, the next focuses on trans love, love across different cultures and the list continues.

One script, infinite love stories. You’ll laugh, cry, learn, and watch some of your own firsts and lasts being performed in front of your eyes.

6 JUN – 14 JUN 2023

Writer- Lucinda Coyle she/her
Director – Samuel Xavier he/him
Stage Manager – Vanshika Rajeev she/her
Designer – Lucy Sneddon she/her
Sound Designer – Jack Baxter he/him
Lighting Designer – Adam Jefferys he/him
Intimacy Co-Ordinator – Katharine Hardman she/her
Assistant Director – Pooja Sivaraman she/her
Production Assistant – Amelie Peters she/her

Beca Barton
Joshua Eldridge-Smith
Annie Loftus
Eoin Quinlan
Website: www.bulletpointtheatre.co.uk

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