Last Words

Last Words
Written, devised and performed by Joseph Sherman. Directed and devised by John Bolton. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton. 24 July – 4 August, 2019.

Joseph Sherman shares a deeply personal experience and transforms his fascinating and tragic family history into an engaging theatre piece. The story of his parents’ escape from the Soviet era of Jewish persecution and making their way to Australia is brilliantly brought to life with the aid of vibrant and very telling family photos.

The era is evoked in a charming and effective way through the use of costuming, setting, music, dancing and singing. Their extraordinary story of relocating to Australia and the journey which brought them to such a distant and remote location is made thrilling and amusing. 

Tragically, their story ends with the crippling effects brought on by the onset of Alzheimer’s. Sherman highlights the way in which it can obliterate such rich cultural memories from both a personal and medical perspective. His exploration of this process increasingly reveals a fear of bearing witness to his own destiny.

The tone of the performance switches from animated narration to a dramatisation of the experience of caring for an Alzheimer patient. This is accompanied by some beautiful yet melancholic piano music composed and performed by Christopher Bolton. The marked shift in atmosphere is quite confronting and accentuates a stubborn resistance to the challenges that life presents us. This is portrayed with vigour and intensity and is conveyed as an inevitable part of human nature.  Sherman’s intricate approach to the piece results in a moving and poignant tale.

Patricia Di Risio

Photographer: Paul Dunn

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