THE ENDLING at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“The dialogue is inspired”
The Endling is an intriguing piece that has a tough message all wrapped up in its funny, quirky, performance style. It revolves around a simple idea: how would you feel if you were the last person (an Endling) on your last day on Earth? Devised by Jane George, Matthew Simmonds and William Moore for Strange Futures, The Endling takes an offbeat trip into the subject of species extinction. The show imagines the small, nondescript details of daily life on a devastated planet. And it is these details that encourage us to see just how life changing species extinction—all species, not just our own—on this planet of ours, could be.
The Endling begins simply enough. A man lies inert on stage, and seems to be sleeping. Another man enters, and is surprised to find him. He had thought he was the last man on Earth. Through a series of questions, we learn that the first man has lost his memory, and — just as significant —he has forgotten the names of everything. The second man attempts to help him. “What’s your favourite colour?” And then the realization. “Where’s all the green gone?” and then “All the birdsong has gone.” Clearly, something catastrophic has happened. The performers turn to the audience and explain that the narrative they are performing is not linear. But they are going to present a story about the last ten years in which everything has disappeared. And they are going to reinvent language to tell this story. Apparently humans — “the two legged ones with frowns on their faces and crispy skins” — are to blame for all this disappearance. From this beginning, Simmonds and Moore embark on a wild and wacky journey—often told from various animals’ points of view.
The ways in which Simmonds and Moore enact their story in The Endling, turning themselves into animals, and even song and dance men at one point, is quite wonderful. The dialogue is inspired, and revolves around a whole series of running gags about reinventing language to describe creatures who have forgotten who they are. The Endling ends where you’d expect—on the very last day of existence—but the whole show is a captivating trip designed to make you think as well as chuckle. If there’s a weakness in The Endling, it comes from a few moments where the energy begins to flag. And that’s hardly surprising when you consider how much material this company has packed into the script.
The Endling is about the right length for a touring show, and it’s sensitively created for a variety of audiences. It’s a great jumping off point for discussion about species extinction, and should be a popular choice for venues looking for a show of this kind. Recommended.
Reviewed 6th August 2022
by Dominica Plummer
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