Everything about this play is perfect. The conviction and throat grabbing attention that the script and the deliverance of it demand, the small Kings Arms theatre in which, if you are lucky enough to be in the presence of genuine talent (which I gratefully am ), you are transported into perilous horror of New York in 1983 into the homes of the tightest knit groups, into the minds of the most terrified, vulnerable and abandoned. ‘Last Dance’ is the heart clenching story of a close group of friends, ruptured by the Aids Epidemic in New York Focusing on Corey (Richard Allen, who gives an overwhelming and poignant portrait of his character) and his slow decline at the hands of the illness and at the hands of the government’s refusal to acknowledge Aids as an illness.
His friends and family struggle to cope in the wake of the fact that someone that they love so intensely is dying, and it affects them all in different and coruscatingly complex ways, Corey’s Boyfriend Peter (Ben Corry) does not know how to cope with the situation,his composure and ultimately his relationship crumbles at the hands of fear,whilst close friend Alan (Ryan McMyler) tragically fluctuates between reason, panic and desire, both Ryan and Ben’s Performances do perfect justice to the tangled and complicated yearning of their characters. Danny (Paul Worrall) and James (Lloyd Eyre-Morgan) Diligently try to maintain calm and comfort among their fraying group,with Humor and Guard Dog Loyalty and via the actors we are provided with a much-required release from the reality of the situation .
This play is one of the most humblingly Humane,tender depictions of tragedy in life I may have ever seen, charting the credibility and dignity of the human spirit,no more so than in the form of Henry, Corey’s doctor played with a subtly magnetic force by Stuart Reeve, who in the wake of the diagnosis and the general Ubiquitous nature of the epidemic in New York at the time, becomes a friend and confident amidst the shocking spite and glare thrust upon the gay community in the early 80’s. Julie Edwards and Celine Constantinides play Corey’s Devastated Mother and Sister, Rose and Sarah, Mother Rose is conflicted by faith and the will of her daughter to embrace her son in the plight of his final days as opposed to a god that will not listen,again the execution of accents and understanding of the story by is sublime, so much so that by the end of the play you can’t do anything else but succumb to the tears that have been building up inside of you throughout this play, the cast as a whole is 5/5 magnificent. a Perfectly tragic depiction of, at its core, humanity and the things that people will do for the people they love in the face of despair,Writer/Producer/Director Craig Hepworth and Director/ Producer Adele Stanhope have created a masterpiece, the acute detail and intelligence of the Costumes,Set design and Montage sequences, coupled with the 3 dimensional majesty and dignity of the script prove that this is a formidable team who understands the very heart of what theatre is and what it can do. this play should take over the world.
This play returns later in the year.
Vertigo’s Next production is ‘Ascension’ and it premieres November 17th – 24th
Photos credited to Graham Edwards