Your Last Breath – Southwark Playhouse, London

Director: Jack Lowe

Reviewer: Tom Finch


Your Last Breath is a clever mix of four stories all of which take place in a remote part of Norway. In 1876 a cartographer is mapping the region for the first time, all the while thinking of his wife and child back home. In 1999 an extreme skier has an accident and her heart stops beating, only to be revived a few hours later. In 2015 a woman has come to the area to spread her father’s ashes. Finally, in 2036 we’re explained the advance in medical knowledge gained from the skier’s accident.

These four stories are interwoven into each other and soon the link between them becomes clear. It’s a nice technique and there is some great, inventive staging.

The cast of five actors all work hard to evoke the world of the play. James Hardy as the Victorian cartographer Christopher does particularly well at showing the danger and isolation of his work.

The piece is very clever but at times it feels almost too clever. It also places fact over emotional honesty. While we are given lots of almost documentary style information the audience is given very little reason to truly care about any of the characters.

The true story of Anna freezing to such a low temperature her heart stopped is genuinely fascinating, but here it plays second fiddle to the others which are never developed fully enough for the stakes to get as high as they should. Maybe focussing more on Anna would make the piece more engaging.

It speaks volumes that the very interesting documentary played at the end of the performance in which the director meets the real life Anna in Norway elicited a greater response from the audience than the play itself.

Runs until 30th December | Image: Richard Davenport


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