Last One StandingA couple of years ago my Grandfather lost his independence. He had been living alone in a small apartment in Sawtell, my parents were out of town, when he had a minor stroke and by the time they found him he had been unconscious on the floor for three or so days. What followed was a quick vacation in a hospital bed where overworked nurses had no patients for a shattered old gentleman who was trying to cope with the loss of his short term memory and struggling to accept that he had transcended into that final, undignified, canto of life.

In Last One Standing, Joe, played by writer and producer Ned Manning, faces a similar situation. The play presents a collage of scenes beginning with Joe and his wife Ruth (Tracy Mann) discussing the history of the plot of land their home is built on; looking out to sea from their garden and considering what their Aboriginal predecessors may have felt when experienced the same view. As the play progresses the trappings of old age begin to take hold of Joe and Ruth passes away. On her death bed she calls on their son Bill (Glenn Hazeldine) to invoke the power of attorney and take control of family affairs. What entails illustrates Manning’s observations on the progress and problems faced by contemporary Australian society; ranging from the role of aged care today to the widening gap between the values of present generations contrasted against those of yesteryear.

While I share many of these concerns with Manning, Last One Standing took too long to get to where it was going and didn’t really engage me until towards the end of the play. A lot of time is spent establishing the characters but mainly via dialogue rather than action. Often it felt like watching talking heads delivering ‘tit for tat’ dialogue that was punctuated only by occasional gestures.

The roles of Joe’s (Manning) children, Bill (Hazeldine) and Katy (Eve Morey) are played by adult actors but the characters are portrayed both in their childhood and as adults. Hazeldine may have been miscast in this respect as I had great difficulty recognizing the semi-bald man as a boy and at first was confused as to whether Katy was his daughter as opposed to his little sister. Morey on the other hand displayed her prowess as a performer, easily transgressing the boundaries of age without ever leaving the audience questioning whether she was a little girl, teenager or woman.

nm Productions in association with the Tamarama Rock Surfers production of Last One Standing has its moments; there are scenes where the dynamic relationship between the actors is like watching the ABC’s Australian Stories, sadly this is not realised throughout the entire piece. I did however enjoy the production and left the theatre moved by the topics the play discusses. I think that there’s some untapped potential in the play that will only come to light through additional drafts and a another look at how to turn the dialogue into action.

nm productions in association with Tamarama Rock Surfers present
Last One Standing
by Ned Manning

Venue: The Old Fitzroy Theatre | Cnr Cathedral & Dowling Sts, Woolloomooloo.
Dates: 4th April – 5th May 2007
Times: Tuesday – Saturday @ 8pm & Sunday @ 5pm
Opening: Tuesday 10th April 8pm (Invitation only)
Preview: 5th – 9th April 2007 – 8pm  - $16 (No show Good Friday or Easter Monday)
Tickets: $19 Concession, $27 Adult, $33 Beer, Laksa & Show; Cheap Tuesdays - $16 Adult, $24 Beer Laksa & Show
Bookings: (02) 9294 4296 or

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