The amount a show takes liberties with narrative should be directly compensated by how much it has to say.
A series of excellent parts that never connect with one another for long enough to build something worthwhile, leaving the audience free to admire the technical prowess but unable to process any emotional core.
The End, The End, The End... is ostensibly a group of people from different national and socio-economic backgrounds explaining their relationship to America, the show’s country of origin. For the most part though, rather than simply allowing these seemingly fascinating stories to be told, the show instead filters any emotional impact through layer after layer of absurdist expression. Each nationality has a different relationship with culture and these relationships are explained, as much as they can be, through unusual movement, dance and music. It is an assault on the senses which is sometimes welcome, but at other times very much not. While the stories seem as though they could be captivating in themselves, utilising this unusual structure took away more power from the performers than it gave to them as the audience struggled to understand the people underneath the quirky actions.
But those actions are given as much power and emotional impact as they can be by a group of performers clearly dedicated to the text. Henita Telo, sometimes portraying herself, other times portraying any number of people including The President of the United States, stands out slightly more than others, while Tyler Riggin and Carolina Romero are equally compelling when given the spotlight. All seven performers impress at different moments though and it is their performances that hold the attention of the audience far more than the material they are working with.
There are moments of power hidden within the fragmented nature of the show and watching them only makes one wish they were given more opportunity to breathe. The scene where each actor, in canon, has an argument with a parental figure, is one of almost breathtaking power and sadness, but that scene is interrupted before it can begin when the seven performers abruptly stop speaking in order to roll around the stage grunting and wailing. Whenever the audience are given an opportunity to connect with the show they are watching it is abruptly snatched away from them to make room for discomforting audience interaction or obfusticating physical theatre, and that makes for an ultimately impressive yet frustrating viewing experience.
The End, The End, The End... is an impressive production by a dedicated team. Lighting designers Dylan Phillips and Josephine Wang, along with the entire rest of the design team, deserve particular praise for creating an immersive, thoroughly unsettling environment in which the show takes place. Similarly, the full cast give everything they have to their performances, slight though their material may be. However, there is simply not enough there to justify such an extraordinarily confusing hour. It is a series of excellent parts that never connect with one another for long enough to build something worthwhile, leaving the audience free to admire the technical prowess but unable to process any emotional core.