Monday 11 May 2015

The Last Supper review

Being a leader is not the easiest thing to be. Especially when you are a leader of a mob group or crime syndicate and have to determine who is genuinely looking out for your safety and to constantly second-guess in whom you can put your trust in. In The Last Supper, crime lord Dorian is facing these problems. What follows is an evening of truths being spoken, lies and deception revealed and the extremes that people will go to, to be a leader and claim the power.

Dorian (Gregory Caine) has invited his most inner circle to a meeting, his "trusted" associates and partners. Those invited include his brother Brody (Karl Sarsfield), Madam President, Claudia (Ashley Tardy), the Head of Intelligence, Novak (Kashmir Sinnamon) and the Chief of Police, Vaughan (Christopher Grant). Once Dorian is finished with his interrogations, this may indeed be the last supper for some of them, as failure to perform their jobs results in death. 

Gabriel Bergmoser's script has some great moments of tension, especially between Brody and Dorian, and the build up to the conclusion is quite compelling. Bergmoser's language is highly descriptive and the scene where Dorian retells the story of the pool of glass is so vivid and feels so real, that the visuals created in my mind were intense. However, this is also the difficulty I had with the structure of The Last Supper: the many conversations about past events referencing at least half a dozen non-present characters. At some points, it felt like we were spending too much time focusing on the past than on the present, and not working with these interesting characters actually on stage.

With The Last Supper being seen as a conclusion to a loose trilogy by Bitten By Productions, I wonder - despite being told it not necessary - if having seen Below Babylon and Beyond Babylon would have made it easier to follow.

Karl Sarsfield brings lots of emotion and honesty with the nervous Brody, who is eager to break free from the life of crime and be a good husband and father. As the story progresses, this desperation to lead a normal life is handled capably by Sarsfield. Similarly, Sinnamon and Grant do well with their supporting roles, each bringing their respective characters to life quite convincingly. 

Despite some extremely powerful monologues, I felt some of Caine's emotional responses as Dorian did not always feel authentic and his motivations and actions were not always clear or seemed to contradict themselves. Tardy, who does a great job as Claudia fails to bring credibility to the character. This is more from a casting issue though, as she appeared to be too young for the role.

Less than a year ago, I watched Bergmoser's Reunion and I saw potential in his writing. The Last Supper is clearly far more ambitious than this previous play, but fortunately there has also been a strong improvement in his skill as a writer. Even with the somewhat confusing and discursive narrative structure, the suspense and the pay off for the audience at the end is worth it.

Venue: My Handlebar, 581 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Season: Until 16 May | Wed-Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $20 Full | $18 Conc

* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 11 May.

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