Theatre review: Last Dream (on Earth)
Post-visual theatre from Kai Fischer and National Theatre of Scotland
Kai Fischer's post-visual work – in which sound, rather than script or visuals, leads the action – brings together two stories of escape: the stirring Russian drama of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space, and the desperate attempt by refugees to make it into Europe across the sea.
Rejecting any kind of traditional on-stage acting, the tales are told, via headphones, by a five strong cast of actors and musicians, with only occasional projections behind them to recall Fischer's usual brilliant scenography.
All five performers are superb: Ryan Gerald is a worried Gagarin, while the whole cast become the refugees as the twin adventures are entwined. Using transcripts from Gagarin's flight, the spectacular ambition of the space programme is brought to life through Gerald's hesitant, hopeful speeches: the tragedy of the migrants lost at sea becomes an uncomfortable echo of his success.
Although the stories do not gel perfectly – the scale of space flight diminishes the tragedy on the earth – the music is carefully structured and performed live to draw the events closer, occasionally striking up a raw groove or slipping into atmospherics to link and illustrate the episodes.
Last Dream (on Earth) makes no moral judgements about the migrants' attempts to find a better life, but integrates them into the scientific history of a search for something better, something true. The dynamism of the music, as well as the excellent performances, make Last Dream an intriguing and carefully experimental pleasure.