Review: The Last Siren

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This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.

Director: Ksenija Krnajski

Being the only one of her kind left, the titular last siren wanders her beach, lamenting the past with only flotsam and debris as company. Her sister has departed and she has been driven demented by loneliness. The siren (Lauren Kinsella) has no one to listen to her and no one to listen to; the only sounds are her own ramblings, the weather, and the harshness of the sea. Her siren song no longer charms and she is destined to spend her time in this bleak and desolate spot.

Kinsella is accompanied by the improvised sound art of The Quiet Club (Mick Oโ€™Shea and Danny McCarthy), who also serve to represent the Orpheus and Odysseus. Conceptually this pairing works well and ties in nicely with the mythological background of the characters. The set is empty but for what has been washed ashore and here again is a nod to the ancient Greeks as well as more contemporary civilisations.

Being heavily improvised throughout The Last Siren takes a creative approach to storytelling and has a somewhat raw and organic feel to it. This is better in theory than in action however and doesnโ€™t quite come together satisfactorily onstage. While the overall structure stems from Ian Wilsonโ€™s libretto, the performance itself is at best free flowing but often jarring. This arguably fits in with the theme of the piece but it becomes grating very quickly. Rather than working in any complementary way the performers seem to be in competition with each other, which results in a headache inducing 60 minutes of theatre.

The most frustrating part of The Last Siren is that the concept is an excellent one and there is clearly a lot of talent on stage. The mythological references are well thought out and the structure at its core seems to be stable. The Quiet Club are highly skilled at sound art improvisation and Kinsella has a wonderful voice, at least based on the brief moments she gets to use it. Unfortunately none of this harmonises and The Last Siren ultimately feels full of lost potential.

Runs until 15 October as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival | Image: contributed

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