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BWW Review: FINAL FAREWELL, Tara Theatre

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South Londoners are given a voice from beyond the grave in six beautifully rendered monologues from, and for, Covid times.

BWW Review: FINAL FAREWELL, Tara Theatre

BWW Review: FINAL FAREWELL, Tara Theatre So far, theatre's response to the pandemic has been, understandably, operational, but creative work with its roots in Covid times is beginning to come through. One such is Tara Theatre's Final Farewell, a collaborative, local immersive experience that looks into its community and finds heartbreak for lives lost, but also joy for lives lived.

The writer, Sudha Bhuchar, interviewed friends and families of bereaved South Londoners and uses that material to open a window beyond the grave, as those no longer with us speak of loves and losses, of passions and politics, of histories and happiness. The scope of examined lives extends from that of an old pug whose daily doggy routines were disrupted by Covid to a gay Iranian photographer who reflects on his two cultures, his closeted lifestyle and his lovers.

We hear these six stories in our ears as we walk through the same spaces in which these lives played out, the experience enveloping, outdoors and safe. We return to the theatre for a brief coda with its Tree of Life and a chance to see an exhibition of photographs and other artefacts from the lives of our (by now) friends. None of this is easy to pull off at all, never mind as successfully as Tara Theatre do in this show, and it is hugely to their credit that it all works so seamlessly - except the weather!

Though the writing is warm and witty, the readings are key to bringing these souls back to life. All the actors do a fine job, but a couple stand out as magnificent examples of the art of the monologue.

Vincent Ebrahim captures the complexity of his subjects' multiple and layered identities, Iranian and British, gay and closeted, artist and worker. He weaves pleasure and pain into his reading and adds much to a story already laden with dramatic possibilities. Dominique Moore is deeply moving as Baby Han, a child whose life never started, a victim of that severely underpowered word, miscarriage. It's hard not to blink back tears and, a little later, to reflect on why such a crushing experience is so seldom the subject of contemporary drama on stage or screen.

One can look at the title and, indeed, read this review and conclude that one's evening will be melancholy, mawkish, maudlin - not so. Proper weight is given to loss, but so too to the lives lived, the little things, the large things, the hopes dashed and hopes realised. Like all the best art, the show transcends its specificities and takes us to a place we recognise, but that we now look upon anew.

Final Farewell is at Tara Theatre (and its environs) until 31 July.

Photo: Jan Willem-Olthof


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