Dead At Last, No More Air

This was by far one of the most outstandingly bizarre pieces of theatre I have ever seen; I am still not entirely sure what I actually witnessed, but I know that I liked it. This is definitely not one for the faint-hearted, the language is complex, intentionally delivered in hasty manner while the sexual innuendos and all out depravity astound.

To describe what actually happened is not easily done, since, as an audience member, you are spun through scenes before you have time to comprehend what is going on.

Both the content and the form made for a two hour assault on the mind of any willing audience member, but it was delivered so well with such an interesting take on the deconstruction of theatre that you'd be hard-pressed not to have spent the next twenty fours hours revelling in its marvel.

The play is by Werner Shwab, an Austrian playwright, who although only lived for a short while made a massive impact in the German-­speaking theatre world. Best known for his grotesque plays which violently express his obsession with degradation, sexuality and politics, this piece was a perfect introduction to a body of work which I anticipate seeing more of.

Dead at Last, No More Air is definitely not an easy ride for its audience; at first I was completely lost in the technical language spewed out of the character actors posing as faux theatre theorists. This was a purposeful trait by Schwab, who intended to disorientate and befuddle his audience to shock them out of a lazy, passive reception of his work.

The lines were delivered quickly but convincingly and oddly the only stage set that was used was a pile of black blow up mattresses - this was excellent as it added to the sheer lunacy of it all.

At the most basic level, the play can be described as the deconstruction of theatre, set in an unsuccessful venue where the cast actually play actors, an overindulged and washed up playwright, a stage designer, a director and a cleaner. Saftmann, the cynical theatre director in particular was hilarious in his deadpan seriousness and critical nature.

To describe what actually happened is not easily done, since, as an audience member, you are spun through scenes before you have time to comprehend what is going on. At one point all the actors of the theatre leave and the director is forced to mine the local old people's home for his new cast, which for some reason ends up in a bizarre orgy between a tramp, Frau Haider the cleaner and Rubens, the gay stage designer.

The characters pick at each other like vultures while the theatre seems to be psychologically collapsing around them. For a play that reuses the cast in different guises, it really did work; each actor took to their characters impeccably and when they were playing two, they were completely distinct. They disappeared into their parts,revealing nothing other than the characters they were playing.

The strange and often blatant sexual references might have been a bit much for some. The play also felt like it was extremely long, in addition to being slightly exhausting to watch. But if you're looking for something totally unique and utterly mind-blowing, then I highly recommend it.

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

Komedia Theatre

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★★
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★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Following a dispute with his actors, a director replaces the entire cast with a group of pensioners from a nearby home for the elderly. Not everyone survives the new order. Werner Schwab’s brutal, irreverent and darkly comic play is about what happens when a stage production is sabotaged by outsiders. “Unlike much of the theatre you'll see in this country.” (One Stop Arts on 'Just a Must')

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