The Last March, the first production from Tinder Theatre, often feels more like a sketch comedy show than a traditional piece of theatre. This original piece takes inspiration from a variety of sources (in particular Spymonkey theatre company, who director Ian Nicholson has worked with), combining elements of clown, slapstick and song in ridiculous but creative union.
Bizarrely, the subject of the show is Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the south pole – not only was he beaten by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, but Scott and his crew all died on the return journey. Yet Nicholson has turned this tragedy into a comic triumph, with a lightness of touch that pays tribute to the expedition (there’s a personal connection here as Nicholson’s great grandfather served under Scott). The three-strong cast bring warmth to a cold snowstorm of a plot, playing multiple parts with cartoonish characterisation that gently pokes fun at the British government, the navy and Norway (as a whole) to great comic effect. As a result, the tragic conclusion is all the more touching.
The expedition may have taken place over a hundred years ago, but the script is utterly modern, with colloquialisms, song quotes and a quirky, oddball sense of humour. The randomness of it all keeps the audience on their toes, underlined by a solid sense of comic timing and theatrical inventiveness. Some jokes miss the mark whilst others feel overly strung out, but the silliness of the whole thing is all part of its charm.
At only an hour long, The Last March is a short, concise and comically rich production – perfect for the Edinburgh Fringe or similar festivals. Just don’t mention the company name – it’s named after the café in which it was founded, not the dating app.
Watch: The Last March runs until the 4th January at the Southwark Playhouse.