The Last Return – Traverse Theatre

Written by Sonya Kelly

Directed by Sara Joyce

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We’re renowned for it; queuing. We’re rather good at following orders in this country; an understanding of the unwritten doctrine of etiquette and ensuring others who perhaps don’t grasp the concept are made aware of how things are done here. There are no favours, no hand-me-outs, and certainly no skipping. Everyone is equal in a queue: the professors, the accountants, the servicemen and students, even those who took 63 buses to enter this nation. They need to wait their turn.

That’s just how it is. Right?

And, at first, The Last Return plays out like an extended sketch routine as two fusty and argumentative theatregoers come together to defend their places within the queue at the theatre, and scoff at the ill-prepared who think the rules do not apply. It flows pleasantly, with a rich character dynamic who set their intentions and quirks early into the story.

A woman armed with an umbrella, curt, dismissive, and only a shade entitled finds the tickets for Oppenheimer all sold-out, save for the hope of a returned ticket. She’s third in the queue. But indeed if she follows the rules, unlike some, she should be second, atleast? After all, you can’t just leave your bag as a placeholder. The man with the Newspaper, attempting to see the full show after 36 failed attempts has the coveted first place. As the bellows of Anna Healy’s utterly fabulous ticket-woman, a professional through and through, ring through the theatre, dirty underhanded tricks are played to secure the coveted ticket.

It becomes clear the paradigms the show challenges and the fastidious nature of this country’s obsession with complacency and entitlement. Writer Sonya Kelly weaves a morosely comedic play into a touching production which leans a trifle heavy on making sure the audience understands but enables Naima Swaleh the ability to come into her own and command every ounce of the stage – laying into the sinew of our countries system of benefits, immigration, and attitudes towards class.

Sara Joyce’s direction amps up the gratuitous mayhem of the show, enabling Fiona Bell and Bosco Hogan the opportunity to unshackle their middle-class bonds and truly let rip with the source material. Thus far comedy has been light, appreciated, but akin to a lengthy sketch routine. By the final fifteen minutes, the writing, the blood, and the protein balls are splattered across the walls.

Remarkably clever, and with a sly wit and thirst for violence, The Last Return struts out with the air of an eighties sketch comedy, light-hearted, mirthful, and framed through Francis O’Connor’s studio setup. By the end, no one who purchased a ticket for this show leaves the same way. One ticket lighter, but richer in chuckles, ideas, and contemplation

‘A sly wit and thirst for violence’

The Last Return runs at the Traverse Theatre until August 28th

Tickets for which may be obtained here.


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