Theatre review: Last Dream (On Earth), Glasgow

LEAVING planet Earth, seeking new worlds; as humankind circles helplessly around the issue of climate change, it’s an image that recurs ever more often in the work of the current generation of artists.

Listen up: Ryan Gerald and Mercy Ojelade in rehearsals for Last Dream (On Earth). Picture: Contributed

Last Dream (On Earth)

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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It was there in Grid Iron’s 2013 Edinburgh Festival show Leaving Planet Earth; it’s at the Traverse this weekend, in Curious Directive’s Fringe First-winning Pioneer.

And it’s the shaping force behind this beautiful and thoughtful new show by the Glasgow-based designer and theatre-maker Kai Fischer, in association with the National Theatre of Scotland, which is set to tour on from Glasgow to St Andrews, Paisley, Lerwick and Inverness.

Not so much a play as a beautifully-shaped one-hour meditation in words, music and occasional visual images, Last Dream (On Earth) takes the form of a sound-sculpture performed live by two musicians and three actors, to an audience wearing headphones for the full, intense effect.

Fischer’s script – researched over many months of visits to key sites of the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean – brings together two narratives: one based on the personal stories of African migrants who risk their lives to reach an imagined new world in Europe, and the other following the cockpit recordings of the messages between ground controller Sergei Korolev and the world’s first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, as he became the first human being ever to see the Earth from space.

Both texts are beautiful, full of an intense sense of humanity stretched to its limit, facing unimaginable extremes of danger and exhilaration in the quest for a new future. In Fischer’s own production, actors Tyler Collins, Mercy Ojelade and Adura Onashile pitch their voices perfectly to the texture of the story, while musician-performers Gameli Tordzro and Ryan Gerald produce an extraordinary range of music and sound, on guitar, percussion and voice, as they bring to life Matt Padden’s extraordinary soundscape.

And the whole show reminds us with terrific force of this truth about human history: that where we can go, some of us will always have the courage to go, particularly when crisis or oppression makes life at home intolerable – and the risk of oblivion a better option than inaction, as we head into the unknown.

• Last Dream (On Earth) is at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, tonight; at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews on 9 April; and on tour until 18 April.