Last Resort

Tom Barnes and Eve Parmiter

2Magpies Theatre

Curve Theatre, Leicester

From 20 October 2017 to 21 October 2017

Review by Sally Jack

Performed as part of Curve Theatre’s Inside Out festival, Last Resort is the most recent production by innovative Nottingham-based company 2Magpies Theatre, developed with The Lowry and supported by Curve Theatre, Leicester.

Now in its fourth year, Inside Out festival celebrates “leading and emerging East Midlands artists”, showcasing writers, theatre makers and artists from around the region.

Between 18 and 28 October, various spaces in the theatre, from its 250+ seater Studio to ad hoc stages in the foyer space, feature free live music, spoken word readings and installations, together with programmed performances at around £10 a ticket.

For Last Resort, our ticket listed ‘Secret Location’ as the venue, and so we were taken a couple of hundred yards from Curve to the nearby Two Queens art studios. Orange deckchairs are arranged in traverse in a cold, empty space—all bleak and exposed brick. However, our hosts Tom and Eve welcome us warmly with Cuba Libra punch, invite us to take a seat in a deckchair, burrow our toes in our personal bag of sand and enjoy a little break at the futuristic Last Resort.

Using the premise of tour guide, this provides the vehicle for passing on a lot of Guantanamo Bay-related facts, from the bizarre and shocking to the depressingly familiar. Who’d have thought Cinderella is on the banned list of books? I suppose it does have a theme of escape to somewhere better.

Devised and performed by Tom Barnes and Eve Parmiter, theirs is a sort of manager-trainee relationship with Eve in charge of the holiday “resort”. This is a multi-sensory experience, with the sand, the punch, a warm flannel, a plunge into blackout and finished off with an unpleasant-to-watch drinking game mimicking the effects of waterboarding.

Whilst thought-provoking, this is a piece heavy with facts and information and stretching an idea as far as it can go. Theatre should provoke thought and discussion of course, but there’s scope to develop this idea further—I didn’t feel I’d got into the heart of the place or the piece, and there are other stories which I would like to see and hear.

2Magpies aims to create visual performances, engaging audiences who don’t normally go to the theatre; another production of theirs, The Litvinenko Project, has been performed in cafés and teahouses around the country. That is perhaps the more accessible production; however, in terms of reaching new audiences, Last Resort is still a strong piece.

The company comes at this subject in a new and interesting way and will hopefully spur audiences on to go back home, get on to Google and make sure this testament to a cruel and unusual punishment is not forgotten.