Edinburgh Fringe 2011
The Last Trilogy, by Spencer Maybe, is a piece of Burlesque theatre woven around environmental issues. The one man show introduces three distinctive characters, either pro or against the destruction of the planet, whose narratives are delivered in the style of burlesque. The original music that each character has to punctuate their message ranges from heart rending ballads to serious grooves, revealing Spencer Maybe’s obvious musical talent. Suggestively wriggling around each table, he is singer, stripper, dancer and narrator all wrapped up in one.
The Last trilogy begins with a messenger of God speaking directly to Spencer and sending him on an impossible mission. He must make the human race aware of the damage they are doing to the planet and prevent the demise of the world. Spencer becomes Jake Wellington, a soldier of peace in sombre military uniform armed with explosive protest songs. Jake implores us to look at the status quo and take stock of the environmental disasters that are occurring, caused by us. He does this lyrically, aching genuine earnestness. Accompanied with poignant film footage, he queries our passivity and pricks at everyone’s conscience.
Whilst Jake is struggling with the world, the devil himself bursts through Jake’s persona and dismisses all the arguments that Jake has pitched. Taking over with a confident stride, the show shakes of its pseudo sanctimonious air, rejects sedate costume and proudly becomes Burlesque at its best. The devil beguiles, armed with all the tempting things we know we shouldn’t like and seduces the hedonist in us all. His musical mood develops alongside. The songs are alive, vibrant and on fire, matching his blood red suit and dancing eyes. Offering alcohol, pleasures of the flesh and numerous intoxicating substances, he writhes around on the stage in front of the transfixed audience, insisting they yell for more and revelling in the fact that they are hypnotised by his brilliance. He punctuates his exit by stripping every item of clothing of his body.
The final act is the arrival of God himself. Shyly, wearing only a teasing and ingenious globe costume, he performs a coquettish striptease that incorporates the effects of global warming. This is a bizarre moment as its entertaining for all the wrong reasons. He discards the worlds resources, as if they were skimpy underwear, echoing mans insatiable appetite to strip the planet.
This is a return of the show that Spencer Maybe performed in the 2010 free fringe. He has taken time to work on his ideas and edit some of the weaker points. It’s a one man show and he works hard to keep his and the audience’s energy levels up. He played to a sparse house tonight but took advantage of that by interacting with everyone in the room. There are lots of opportunities for the audience to be involved and he capitalises on these moments. The audience clearly warm to all the characters he plays, including the devil, and with the infectious music and gyrations it’s hard to sit still.
Unfortunately there are still technical issues that need to be addressed. This show tackles big themes and has the potential to run away if not carefully contained. It involves a lot of time sensitive multimedia and in tonight’s performance the technical cues that are vital for this to work were scrappy. Spencer moves freely around the cabaret venue, which is ideal for this work, yet he has no spotlight on him so often is in darkness. Sorting these glitches would easily earn this show its missing fourth star.
Spencer is naughtily attractive, a great all round performer and his songs are superb. One of the highlights of the piece was linking the amazing feat of Philippe Petit (the tightrope walker who achieved the twin towers spectacle) to the human race being capable of overcoming their apathy towards climate change, and he serenades this with the sublime composition, Man on a Wire. Although heavily disguised in humour it’s clear that Spencer is genuinely trying to make a difference.