Review: Scenes from the End, Camden People’s Theatre

Dealing with grief is a peculiar thing that no words can ease or alleviate the pain. Scenes From The End takes a post-dramatic view in the aftermath of death through opera, music, multimedia and words. The performer brings the audience on a sensory and emotional journey through her turbulent and frenzied attempt to cope with loss.

In this one woman show, actor Heloise Werner remains nameless and anonymous to the audience, which in itself presents her to the audience as an everyman. It is a clear and defined representation that death and the mourning that comes with it happens to everyone – what the performer and writer is expressing is a universal state of mind. With the use of several percussion objects, such as bones and sticks Werner attempts to bring some form and normality back to her life in this time of desolation, loss and confusion during mourning. Fragmented singing, speaking and movement are powerful in the depiction of this anonymous character’s frustration who is trapped within the world after loss. With an incredibly strong voice, haunting stage presence and overwhelming physicality, Werner brings another level to the emotions that are being projected.

With curious text, literary quotes and instructions to both the audience and performer, the multimedia projections during the performance presents to us a Brechtian element once the lights have been lowered. It is apparent very early on that the fourth wall has been tampered with as we watch the performer turn to the screen with instructions for guidance throughout. The audience is informed of pauses to drink some water, a musical interlude to break up the journey and when to indicate when our guide has moved through different sections of the story. This approach is effective, but the post-dramatic element feels at times like it is there only to be ‘out there’ – and different for the sake of it.

Death is something that we all endure and this varied and layered approach to communicating the difficulty in it conveys the complexity that humans have in processing the event. Directed by Emily Burns, with words and music by Jonathan Woolgar, Scenes From The End is powerful, abstract and thought provoking in its impact. Rather than attempt to deduce and decipher, you are probably better to register the thoughts and emotions that arise throughout the production, because you will never reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Scenes from the End will be playing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival on 22-27 at Greenside Nicolson Square. For tickets and more information see the Edinburgh Fringe website