The Last Words by Theatre With Teeth, Exeter’s own student-led drama company, is a gritty murder mystery with a twist. The story takes place in the midst of a murder investigation, but one in which the victim survived her own murder. Protagonist Rebecca, played by Emily Wallace, wakes up unable to remember anything about her life – or death – apart from the last words spoken to her by the other characters.
The audience adopts Rebecca’s perspective, kept in the dark about the true nature of her murder throughout the show. The result is a disorientating but thrilling journey of self re-discovery which takes place alongside continual revelations about the lives of other characters and their relationships with Rebecca. Rebecca’s life acts as a focal point for the production, providing a context through which the show can sensitively explore themes such as domestic violence, stalking, mental illness, and family strife.
The set design was excellent. The police tape demarcating the perimeter of the set immediately immersed the audience in the scene of the crime. The background, which featured mugshots of the cast pegged to a web of red wool, conveyed to the audience throughout the show that everybody was a suspect in the murder and heightened the audience’s understanding of Rebecca’s suspicion, heightening the suspense.
Moments of comic relief punctuate the performance, relieving tension where necessary. The greatest strength of the production was the cast, whose compelling performances brought their characters to life in an engaging way. Rebecca was a complicated character, and the script did a great job of portraying her as a real person with personality flaws, struggling as a result of the consequences of her actions. The complexity of the characters and their relationships to each other provide the audience with much food for thought and discussion regarding the part each character had to play in Rebecca’s murder.
All in all, The Last Words was a gripping, thought-provoking production with outstanding performances from all of the cast. RAZZ Magazine wishes Theatre with Teeth all the best at Edinburgh Fringe!
– Alanah Swift
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