Theatre Eats Itself In Werner Schwab’s Last Play

Denise Heinrich-Lane, Drew McKenzie, Ingrid Evans, Ben Hood, Jeremy Hancock, Delia Remy, Tom Jacobs, Niall Murray. Photo by Ludovic des Cognets.

Denise Heinrich-Lane, Drew McKenzie, Ingrid Evans, Ben Hood, Jeremy Hancock, Delia Remy, Tom Jacobs, Niall Murray. Photo by Ludovic des Cognets.

Fans of anti-naturalistic, avant garde German meta-theatre would do well to head over to the Camden People’s Theatre this week. Those who aren’t sure what that last sentence meant should probably steer clear.

Dead At Last, No More Air is a strange, difficult, sometimes boring, sometimes very entertaining play by award-winning Austrian writer Werner Schwab. It’s now two decades since Schwab’s rock and roll death at the age of 35 following a New Year’s Eve drinking spree, a fact which only adds to the mystique of this oblique, angry and absurd tale of a playwright set upon by his own cast.

Short on incident, long on non-sequiturs and neologisms, there is however a lot of fun with wigs and inflatables and a few very funny sequences that just about make sense. Highlights amongst the pervading post-post-modern atmosphere include: sex with a homeless pensioner, a punch-up between the crew, and the director on a chair swearing about the quality of the play through a megaphone.

On a technical level, it’s an impressive production with a committed cast and brisk direction by Vanda Butkovic who does well to keep the considerable verbiage flowing fast. And hats off to Meredith Oakes, who must have had a few nosebleeds while translating this wild and prickly beast.

Dead At Last, No More Air is on at the Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road NW1, until 17 May. Tickets £12 / £10. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.

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