The Last South: Pursuit of the Pole (4 stars)

This article is from 2007.

Aiming High

Between 1910 and 1912 two competing teams, one British one Norwegian, set out to become the first men to reach the South Pole. Only one managed to return home to tell the tale. Constructed from the diaries kept by the British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his Norwegian counterpart Roald Amundsen, this play documents the motions of elation and despair the two men endure as they battle through the elements, always aware that the other could be only a few miles in front or behind.

The same lust for conquest may be driving the ambitions of the two men but here they are presented as raging opposites. Scott (Adrian Lukis), is bookish and meticulous, listing his inventory and boasting of his lectures as he writes in his diary. In the final stages before the start of an expedition that took more than six years of planning and research, he reveals his disdain for his younger, brasher rival, clearly worried despite his arrogance that Amundsen’s youth and vigour might present an obstacle to his triumph that his wisdom cannot overcome.

Having received a staggering four consecutive Fringe First awards in a row back in the late 1980s director Rob Mulholand will certainly be subject to high expectations with his first return to the Fringe in over 15 years. Yet while many years may have passed his skill has certainly not diminished during his prolonged Edinburgh hiatus. The play, adapted by the American playwright GM Calhoun, is an agile work, excellently acted by its leads that through delicate pacing draws the audience into their world of frost bite, dead huskies and the unimaginable bleakness of being thousands of miles away from home trekking through the most inhospitable environment on earth.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 27 Aug (not 8, 15), 1.10pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).

The Last South

  • 4 stars

James Seabright Theatre Productions present GM Calhoun's ripping yarn about Scott of the Antarctic. The words of Scott and his rival, Roald Amundsen, are excavated from letters and diaries and performed in two side by side monologues.

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