Review – What’s On Stage – Katherine Boone
The Tailors' Last Stand
Venue: Barons Court Theatre
Where: Inner London
Date Reviewed: 6 March 2013
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Located in a tiny typical bar theatre, this comfy, close-quarters office has much taking place within it, and you’ve got to be at the top of your game to absorb all of this deep performance.
For a “last stand,” these communists don’t go out with much of a “bang”. The first act echoes with a lot of elements of the absurd. Particularly for Max (played by Edmund Dehn), there are moments where the internal journeys of these characters are explored more than significance of the events happening around them. As the men conversed with one another, there was talk of the present, and there was talk of the past, but rarely ever was their talk of their future. The world of their union is fading—and even though the men are evaded by the reason as to why, the minute they talk about their own futures and the future of communism, they fall apart: their differences of opinion make it impossible for a decision to come about, and they end up exactly where they started.
During a conversation with the writer, Ian Buckley, he told me “I was raised in a very Communist family, so I have grown up knowing it from the inside.” The conflict between the unified way of thinking and the individualist way of thinking is quite clear here; every man has his way he believes things should be done, and yet a decision is never reached unless everyone agrees. The one thing that can get them to agree, is this absent force of the character Rose. And even by the end they all have differing opinions about her (decision over whether or not she is one of the many spies that entered Soviet Russia during this time period).
Overall, it is a great look into a dynamic that most people are not familiar with, written by a man greatly knowledgeable about the subject. The short and abrupt diction style reflects the separation and dissolution of the union, and all four men bring their own ideas and comic values to the show. However there are many moments that are slow, and the persistent conflict the men face between their individualism and the uniform thinking of Communism tends to stifle the movement. It very accurately portrays the struggle of a group whose fight is already over.