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The Last Straw review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘deeply enigmatic and very watchable’

Fiona Creese and Gareth Brierley in The Last Straw. Photo: Zadoc Nava Fiona Creese and Gareth Brierley in The Last Straw. Photo: Zadoc Nava
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It’s apt for a show about fake news and the bombardment of information in the digital age that most of the time it’s completely unclear what’s going on.

That obfuscation is deliberate. The 130th piece by experimental theatre veterans People Show gives us no specifics. Nothing concrete. It leaves all the meaning-making to us.

So we get a series of dialogues between Fiona Creese and Gareth Brierley. There’s a story about squirrels being governed by bears in a deliberately absurd metaphor for authoritarianism. Images are turned on their head, misinterpreted, falsified.

When Creese thinks she sees a dead parrot, Brierley tells her it’s actually a discarded pile of chips and ketchup. And so that’s what it becomes.

Brierley is torn between trying to utter rational, full sentences and simply screaming at the top of his lungs – we’ve all been there.

At points it seems like it might be using a lot of words with nothing to say, but the lot of words it uses are strangely compelling. And they’re on a stage beautifully designed by Jessica Worrall, littered with shredded paper, like a human-sized version of the guinea-pig cage on a table at the back.

Although deeply enigmatic, it’s all very watchable, and enjoyable in its individual moments.

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Slightly cryptic show about fake news from experimental theatre veterans People Show