An hour-long rumination on death may sound dreary, but One Last is a work of surprising variety and vigor. Inspired by interviews with real people that she conducted over the past year, writer Tessa King has fashioned a set of monologues (and one recurring dialogue) that is at turns funny and poignant, disturbing and humane.
We’re introduced to a gamut of characters ranging from an undertaker, a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan, a neurotic woman convinced that she’ll be murdered in her sleep, and a man planning his own funeral, despite the fact that he’s alive and healthy.
One Last is blessed with a talented ensemble, each of its five members demonstrating a fine control of speech and storytelling. It’s hard to single out any one performance, but Beatriz Pizano’s portrayal of a woman writing a suicide note is particularly haunting, and perhaps the show’s highlight. Director Lauren Taylor does well by highlighting each monologue with effective background choreography.
The play would still benefit from a dramatic arc that would bring the individual scenes together in a unified whole. It’s a small trifle, however, as each story proves complete and satisfying enough to be little plays of their own.
Photo courtesy of Summerworks.ca.