In 1911-1912, the race to the South Pole was big news. Playing out between the Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen, and a British team lead by Captain Robert Scott, the prize was hard won by Amundsen. Captain Scott and his team lost the race to the pole, and soon after their own lives.
The Tinder theatre company have magnificently taken this tragic story of exploration, and transformed it into a play which is somehow both riotously funny and deeply poignant. The cast of three paint a complete picture of life in the British and Norwegian camps, which while not entirely factual, deals with the basis of the issue. The Norwegian camp were well-prepared for the conditions, well stocked, and kept to their plans. The in-experienced British camp had less idea of what they were getting into which combined with unfortunate weather conditions to lead to the eventual outcome.
The play itself is remarkably funny. Each of the actors is brilliantly talented in bringing to life all the characters of the exploration party, through a combination of caricature, accent and props work. The play is highly physical, making use of props and wordplay-based humour to great effect. The weather effects are particularly brilliant for their simply-rendered impact. Light relief, sometimes verging on the surreal, quickly punctuates the cast’s moments of genuine drama. The cast’s key achievement was keeping a straight face and serious presentation of material that veered from plain funny to ridiculous.
…sadness punctuates the final parting jokes…
The plot weaves seamlessly beneath the Play’s surface silliness, and as the drama draws to its inevitable tragic close, sadness punctuates the final parting jokes. As a whole it’s a story brilliantly told, and a surprisingly touching piece of comedy theatre.
The Last March is at Southwark Theatre until January 4th with tickets at £16 and concessions available.