YOUR LAST BREATH
Southwark Playhouse (The Little) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 30 December 2015.
Runs 1hr 10min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 December.
Intriguing multimedia play of science and ideas.
Love, a Philip Larkin poem declares, is what remains of us when we’re otherwise gone. Curious Directive’s theatre piece redefines this as the urge to life and discovery, benefitting people in the future. In the last of its four time zones, a young man born in 2015 explains how his life depended on his being in suspended animation at birth.
At the other end of the time-span, 19th-century Christopher maps northern landscapes, at the cost of his life and family, but paving the way for the future. These solo sections frame the main action, which is less the story of Freija scattering her father’s ashes in the wild north, than the remarkable account of Anna.
Her story dominates from the first image, of a skier lying caught in ice. The accident actually happened in 1999, and the hour-long action is followed by a brief documentary film recording the main events.
Young, active and fit, Anna was skiing in Norway when her foot caught on some sticks. She fell, as it happened by a hole in the ice, into the water beneath. Face-up she managed to keep breathing, then stopped. She was of course, dead.
But her friends kept searching, found her four hours later and she was helicoptered to hospital. Doctors tried resuscitating her heart. Eventually, it responded though the surgeons knew there’d be irreparable brain damage.
Except there wasn’t. Miraculously, as people used to say, her brain recovered fully and there’s Anna on film subsequently, walking briskly, talking about her experience and making one significant comment.
Underwater her body temperature had dropped significantly, to one of the lowest known for humans. So, her brain had not been functioning and had no call for the blood which would not have been available – an accidental suspended animation such as would soon be planned to keep Nicholas alive.
Anna says people tell her she must be glad to be alive. But life goes on as always, to be experienced actively rather than enjoyed abstractly, something the stories of toughness and determination here reflect. Life may be enjoyable; it has to be purposeful.
Christopher: James Hardy.
Anna: Sarah Calver.
Otto: Gareth Taylor.
Freija: Katherine Newman.
Nicholas: Lewis MacKinnon.
Director: Jack Lowe
Designer: Cai Dyfan.
Lighting: Sherry Koenen.
Sound: Jo Walker.
Composer: Adam Alston.
Video: Jasmine Robinson.
Movement: Gareth Taylor.