Lists for the End of the World by fanSHEN theatre company sounds, on paper, deceptively simple. The production’s creators have compiled hundreds of crowdsourced lists and during the show, the performers read them out in different ways. Each performance, the list of lists grows, as the audience is asked to fill in a new list on their way in. Soon enough, it becomes clear how many ideas are contained in the show’s concept.
Lists for the End of the World is performed by Clare Dunn, Shireen Mula and Delme Thomas with excellent timing and physicality as well as confident and nuanced delivery. Over the course of an hour, they speak, sing, chant and act out a variety of lists – the funny (‘Things I pretend to be interested in’), the dark (‘What keeps me up at night’ – pun intended), the sweet (‘Songs I’ve kissed someone to’), the bizarre (‘Places I would hide a body’), the sad (‘People I’ve liked more than they liked me’). Over and over, the simple and yet deeply meaningful inner thoughts of other people wash over us. We laugh, gasp and ache, recognising ourselves in the words spoken. Who knew lists could elicit so many emotions!? I was involuntarily compiling my own answers in my head, surprisingly engaged in the action.
My personal interpretation of this show’s intriguing title is that these lists are in fact an antidote to ‘the end of the world’. If that end is ever approaching, we should revisit these lists, because they demonstrate that, deep down, we’re all the same. The lists are so relatable, showing that we all have similar hopes, fears and favourite childhood toys. A surprisingly heartwarming show, Lists for the End of the World showcases something innately human and left me feeling a little bit better about the state of the world. Best of all, you are handed a pretty little matchbox on the way out, containing a miniature, blank version of what is perhaps the ultimate list – ‘Things I want to do before I die’.
Lists for the End of the World is playing Summerhall until August 27th. For more information and tickets, see https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lists-for-the-end-of-the-world.