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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

The Endling

Strange Futures

Genre: Devised, Physical Theatre, Theatre

Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate


Low Down

Are we viewing ourselves as separate from the rest of the living world? As the wonderful and varied species on earth diminish, are we not diminished too? Our experience, understanding, even our language may also disintegrate and fade away in a kind of planetary dementia.


A figure is crouching on the ground in the dark….is it human, animal or something else? We may be looking at the last human animal after the extinction of the species in this dystopian world’s play. A creature mentions that their favourite colour was green, not is green, therefore, we are being taken back….or is it forwards into the future?

Devised and written by Jane George, Matthew Simmonds and William Moore, The Endling is Strange Futures’ latest devised physical theatre play. This show is based on their research into nature and nature’s mortality. No one is blamed and the meaningful story is full of their findings presented in an entertaining way. Performed by Moore and Simmonds they are adept physical performers. For example when they become birds their movement is as close as possible as a human can come, without actually flying!

We are reminded that this is not a linear story in the sense that we may expect but that their company’s treatment of a subject is to seek ways to show rather than tell and to make us laugh a bit. They prefer to tell stories and when necessary share short bursts of facts that ground their story, may surprise or even shock at the stark situation of our species right now.

We hear about droughts and their effects on the environment and especially birds. Sounds underscore parts of the show, such as the cackle of ice breaking, or voiceovers about birds. There is also a poetic and ethereal quality that emanates at times. In a description about a creature and their demise as effects of time and the environment it is said they they  are now two-legged and with crispy skins.

Simmonds and Moore also create humorous moments with exceptional physicality and astute observations of people and animals. A fascinating physical section is about colonial power decades gone by when Simmonds and Moore break out into a vaudevillian song and dance routine, which is an effective addition to the storytelliing. More recent events are also mentioned such as the wasteful killing of a well known lion in Africa, Cecil, “who even had a name”. Euphemisms are often used for these events but that does not excuse them.

A fascinating aspect of this play is the invention of words and word play and we can imagine making up words for creatures when we first discover them – and more importantly remember them. So what would they be called and why?

There is talk about Tasmanian tigers, Polynesian tree snakes – and we must not forget Toughie, the dog!  Much care has been given to detail from their research that is included in the show and expressed in a variety of ways to share it with an audience. This is an imaginative meaningful play that is very well performed and presented plus it conveys ideas and real information about history and science in an appealing way.

This show is curious for the curious, entertaining, enlightening, witty, humorous and thought provoking.