Last Man Standing

Theatre N16

Reviewed – 14th November 2017


“Raw and evocative allowing the play’s contrast between romance and bloodshed to flourish”


Set in a small English village where day to day life is shattered by the impact of the Somme, Last Man Standing jumps between the childish bickering of the past, and the life or death reality of war. 


Following the interwoven stories of seven men and women who grew up together, the play focuses predominantly on Tom Dawson, played by the hugely talented Josh Milner. Tom is portrayed as a defiant young man through and through, with a strong sense of justice and a fierce loyalty to his friends, as well as to his love, Jenny. He spends his days alongside pals Joe (played by fellow standout Ben Cooper) and Stanley, often fighting with Edmund Carrington, the cowardly upper class boy with his eye on Jenny. After the men go off to war, Jenny and Peggy are left behind to pick up the pieces of their lives, and attempt to cope with their new reality.

The show was originally devised as a two hour linear piece for a cast of about 65 students for a school production based on some of their own work. Jude Cole subsequently rewrote it for a cast of seven and took it to the Edinburgh fringe. This latest rewrite, lengthening the Edinburgh show, now bears very little resemblance to the original production but still retains its meaning.

The set is stunning in its simplicity. Leaves decorating the ceiling, leading into barbed wire cascading down onto the stage, coiling around wooden crates. Raw and evocative allowing the play’s contrast between romance and bloodshed to flourish.

As the play goes on, the battles between the characters escalate, with the love triangle constantly bubbling beneath the surface. For a running time of around an hour and a half, Last Man Standing manages to bring almost everyone a solid sense of character development. Secrets are revealed throughout the narrative, further explaining the reasons behind the varied loyalties and enemies within the group, as well as giving the audience a chance to delve deeper into the characters themselves.

In the last twenty minutes of the play, it seems to go off track, jolting through time skips and becoming less grounded. This is no reflection on the actors, a fantastic ensemble who brilliantly created the world on stage, but rather of the script itself. The last few moments of the play do seem to have echoes of the original Year Eleven contributors. However, taking that into account, this show is a triumph.

Directed by Courtney Larkin, the play truly does have a solid grounding, especially in our current political climate, with the threat of war constantly in our headlines. Emotional and raw, Last Man standing was a delight to watch.


Reviewed by AWB

Photography courtesy Theatre N16




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