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Last Resort at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘unnerving but shapeless look at torture’

Scene from Last Resort at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: DWC Imagery

There’s a lot going for Last Resort, 2Magpies Theatre’s surreal satire on state-sanctioned torture and anti-terror tactics: a free Cuba Libre on arrival, a comfy deckchair to enjoy the show from, a bag of sand – your own personal beach – to dip your feet into, and an unnerving air of latent threat.

The show takes you to Guantanamo Bay, no longer a US military black site, but a luxury spa resort where the holiday reps have something to hide and the leisure activities bear disconcerting resemblance to enhanced interrogation techniques.

Drinking games morph into waterboarding. Pilates sessions become endurance tests. Disco music abruptly turns into excruciating white noise.

Deviser-performers Tom Barnes and Eve Parmiter marshal events with an unfailingly creepy friendliness, evoking an oppressive atmosphere that sits somewhere between 1984 and Catch-22.

For all its disturbing power, though, there’s a lot that doesn’t work here. There’s a lack of structure, a paucity of dramatic tension, and the nagging feeling that this story has been told, and told better, before.

It’s not torture, by any stretch, but it’s not terribly resonant either.

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Verdict
Inventive, unnerving but shapeless exploration of enhanced interrogation techniques 
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