Live graphic novel with trippy music is unutterably cool, but struggles to engage
This article is from 2016.
Sultry, sophisticated and unutterably cool, Flemish theatre group Het nieuwstedelijk's graphic novel-cum-music gig Last Call also takes a bit of getting your head around. Based on Belgian graphic novelist Philip Parquet's book Dansen Drinken Betalen, it imagines a brooding spoken monologue for teenage misfit Sara, the novel's leading character, and adds to it a moody, trippy live score for electronics and jazz piano.
With its big-screen projections and throbbing beats, it's hard not to compare the show with last year's quite similar The Great Downhill Journey of Little Tommy, but whereas that show was all unbridled energy, raw and unrestrained, Last Call works hard at its determinedly unimpressed coolness, from Sara Vertongen's wonderfully sarcastic narration, a single eyebrow permanently raised in disinterested disbelief, to its storyline of casual crime and a waif abandoned in the big city.
It's a seductive show, carried off brilliantly by Vertongen with Joris Caluwaerts on propulsive piano. But ultimately the story doesn't amount to much – simply a succession of bizarre episodes – and it's hard to feel too involved by its all-pervading atmosphere of teenage existential ennui. Last Call is a superb imaginative and musical achievement, but one that struggles to fully engage.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug (not 15, 19, 22), 10.40pm, £10 (£8).