Lists for the End of the World
- Jordan Shaw
- 24 August 2017
A dearth of creativity makes for a tedious verbatim piece
Lists are wonderful things. They help you remember to pick up a loaf from the supermarket, they keep you on track with all your daily tasks, and they provide you with useful information and insightful commentary on all the upcoming arts events in your area. So, given the indispensability of the trusty list, it's all the more disappointing it should be put to such devastatingly dull theatrical effect in Lists for the End of the World. In their debut Fringe production, fanSHEN take what might have been an interesting concept and fail utterly to capitalise on it, producing a show of soporifically tiny scope and interest.
Aside from a quick introduction, Lists for the End of the World consists entirely of the cast reading out crowd-sourced lists on such topics as 'Things to Do Before I Die' and 'Things I Pretend to Be Interested In'. Sometimes they read them while standing at different bits of the stage. Sometimes they do it in slightly different voices. At a couple of points, they even read them while dancing. If you've made it this far through the paragraph, you have a disappointingly accurate sense of Lists for the End of the World.
The production is dull, repetitive, and almost bafflingly uninventive. Its sole strategy for generating humour – following every few list items with a vaguely unexpected one – feels tired after ten minutes. Every now and then, the cast will follow a series of lighthearted lists with a sad one, seeming to mistake sudden tonal shifts for depth and complexity. It's deeply disappointing, as the cast are clearly capable performers, but they are given little more to do here than contort their eyebrows at the audience in response to some of the more unorthodox items.
If any attempt has been made to extract from these lists any greater meaning whatsoever, the final production shows no evidence of it. Rather than a finished piece of theatre, Lists for the End of the World feels more like a not-particularly-useful devising workshop, stretched far, far beyond breaking point.
Summerhall, until 27 Aug, 1.45pm, £12 (£10).