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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Last Show on Earth™ deals with life’s “tiny deaths”

Neptune Theatre presents the premiere of Breton Lalama's new apocalyptic dark comedy on its Scotiabank Stage until February 18.

In its ongoing mandate to elevate the voices and stories of marginalized people, Neptune Theatre presents the premiere of Breton Lalama’s new “unapologetically queer” apocalyptic dark comedy, The Last Show on Earth™.

At its core, The Last Show on Earth™ is a tale of impending doom, a narrative set against a vague and mysterious apocalypse.

The world is on the brink of destruction, with most of the population fleeing to Mars or indulging in extravagant deck parties, squandering their remaining time and resources. Against this bleak backdrop, the play follows Eli, an essential worker in a fruit roll-up factory, as he grapples with his past and confronts the spectre of his own identity.

Lalama, whose journey with his play from conception to stage spanned seven years, reveals that the inspiration behind the production was not a deliberate choice but a gradual evolution of ideas and imagery. What began as a simple image of a person stripping fruit roll-ups became an exploration of loss, identity, and the human experience in the face of impending catastrophe.

As the story evolved, so too did its themes and characters. What started with four teenage protagonists transformed into a narrative centred on three individuals in their late twenties, reflecting Lalama’s growth and introspection over the years.

Yet amidst these changes, the essence of the story remained constant—a meditation on the myriad “tiny deaths” we experience in life and their impact on our sense of self and community. It also came at a time in Lalama’s life when they were coming out as trans, which “felt a death of sorts” for the theatre artist. 

“Every day we endure a series of tiny deaths, whether it’s the fact you didn’t get a job or someone you love broke up with you or something even as tiny as me forgetting to water my succulents,” says Lalama. “Everyone can relate to a million tiny deaths in the world and things daily.”

Seven years in the making, playwright Breton Lalama's (photo above) The Last Show On Earth™ premieres at Halifax's Neptune Theatre.
Seven years in the making, playwright Breton Lalama’s (photo above) The Last Show On Earth™ premieres at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre.

Bringing The Last Show on Earth™ to the stage was challenging, like many new scripts. It involved years of development, workshops, and revisions, eventually culminating in the Neptune Theatre production hitting its Scotiabank Stage this month.

But why the trademark as part of its title? According to Lalalma, its inclusion serves as a pointed commentary on the commodification of everything, including the end of the world, highlighting the relentless pursuit of profit even in the face of impending doom. “It’s my homage to the corporate capitalistic colonialist bullshit of our society,” they explain. 

In a world teetering on the brink, The Last Show on Earth™ may even offer a glimmer of hope in the face of the abyss.

Neptune Theatre presents The Last Show on Earth™ on its Scotiabank Stage (1589 Argyle St, Halifax) until February 18. Visit neptunetheatre.com for tickets and information.

Editor’s Note (10 February 2024): This interview was revised to remove quotes incorrectly attributed to Breton Lalama. We apologize for the error.

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