Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Last Orders is inspired by the story of Sawney Bean, the 16th century Scottish cannibal. Director and Choreographer Al Seed has pushed the legendary myth to its absolute limit and possibly beyond. Or at least over stepped the limits of its audience. To watch Last Orders it is necessary to let go of a need for a structured narrative as you are confronted with a collage of ideas that don’t actually reflect the story of Sawney Bean, but the themes involved in the tale.
Although Last Orders does not reflect an A to B narrative it does begin with a birth of sorts and ends with a death. Centre stage a huge sack of a womb begins to squirm to the sound of electronic pulsations, twitching and jerking five beings make their way out into the world. Closer to maggots than baby birds the five figures flap and flick in a beautifully executed madness. Beaten and contorted by the beat of a drum comes a female figure, dancing for her life, filthy and hungry for the flesh of others she jerks and flexes attracting her prey. Next we find ourselves in a nightclub where the hunger for gratuitous flesh is the overriding factor; the body is viewed purely as a vehicle for pleasure. The directors notes then inform us that we’ll be moving ‘into a more recognizably structured world-that of storytelling’. Well it’s no more structured than the rest of the muddled tale though there is a concerted effort at telling a story, though you’ll find yourself opening your eyes wider and wider in an effort to comprehend the message.
I would suggest not suppressing your natural reactions whilst watching this piece. If you want to laugh, laugh. If you want to groan in disdain, groan. Traditional theatre protocol does not apply to this production as it is not a traditional work. The lowest denominator of the production is the desire for flesh, from people being tethered together by a cat’s cradle of rope and paraded like cattle at a meat market to leg humping and felatio receiving, which you quickly become desensitised to. Seed is also trying to find metaphors of cannibalism in modern day culture; he attempts to highlight the hunger and regurgitation of human life in reality shows which over populate TV programming. This message is completely lost as the rest of the production is overloaded with the abstract.
Last Orders is worth viewing for the solo by Lina Limosani alone. The solo at the top of the work is nervy and contorting, the movements are other worldly. The actions are mesmerising as every part of her body doesn’t stop moving, each limb moving to a different beat. Last Orders was possibly performed at the wrong venue and I don’t think the audience were braced what they received. It is hard to say if Last Orders is a stroke of genius or completely insane.