The Last Vagabonds

Teddy Monroe
Worms Theatre Company
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

The Last Vagabonds

The Last Vagabonds lets us glimpse the unhappy mind of the young student Bill (Teddy Monroe). He’s at odds with the world and uncertain of what he wants or even whom he wants to be with. His wealthy parents try to support him, but he’s not really connected with them despite his dad, the Head of Sustainability for the fossil fuel company BP, getting him a potential internship with the company.

His parents also seem discontented.

His mother (Ella Strauss) is depicted as a restless consumer addicted to Netflix and forever finding fault with her husband and son over often trivial matters, such as what happens to a pair of socks.

His father (Ben Lamb) looks and sounds constantly defeated. He hangs his head low, describing poor jokes he told at work that generated no laughter. With his wife, he seems submissive and awkward as if their relationship is dead.

Bill is also dissatisfied with his male friends, except for his imagined externalised expression of his repressed feelings performed by Adam Hashmi.

Lost, lonely and self-absorbed, he later admits that he only thinks about himself or getting off with women.

Things change when he accidentally spits on a young woman sitting in the road. It's an improbable magical beginning to perhaps another externalisation of repressed feelings. This time, the woman named Hope (Poppy Arnold), whom he describes as “really fit”, becomes a form of angel that might lead him to a different world.

Sure enough, given she is a climate activist, she introduces him to others who are taking action over the gas-guzzling selfishness of the SUVs. Placing a lentil inside the tyre cap of such vehicles, they cause the tyres to deflate, and the SUV owner a tiny inconvenience.

Attracted to his magical angel, he goes on an outing and, showing a remarkably sexist lack of awareness, tells them a joke about a vagina and a melon. But Hope isn’t so easily undermined in her magical contact with Bill.

Together, they deflate the tyres of an SUV and move on to other stuff, despite Hope counselling him about the damage it may cause to his relationship with his dad.

However, Bill is beginning a new life. He turns down the internship, abandons university and kisses with consent his magical angel though never entirely trusting women; he finds that Hope is in an open sexual relationship with a woman called Fred (Scarlett Miller).

Until the new gaggle of anti-protest laws were recently marched through Parliament, such protesters would be arrested under the all-purpose 1824 Vagrancy Act. Hence the title of the play The Last Vagabonds.

The show touches slightly on many important issues, such as climate change, the troubling treatment of women and of course the classic coming-of-age story. While clearly painting its central character Bill in blatantly unsympathetic, sexist, self-obsessed terms, the other characters are depicted in such narrow stereotype terms, they risk replicating the prejudices and superficiality of many traditional fables.

As a consequence, there is a lack of dramatic tension, it is difficult to see what's at stake beyond Bill’s restless mind and there is no reality to any character other than Bill. There is only Bill looking for an angel to give him some meaning in his life.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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