Kevin Keiss’ ‘This Last Piece of Sky,’ translated by Charis Ainslie, is an enchanting production that moves the audience between two worlds, connected by an equation that promises the answers to the universe itself. Written orinally in French, Ainslie’s translation, at least to an English audience unfamiliar with the source material, most definitely delivers in its lyrical prose and otherworldly descriptions.
Keiss has created two incredibly compelling worlds – that of Louis, beginning with the writing scrawled on every inch of the wall and later becoming confined to a mental facility and the terrifying military dictatorship endured by Sarah, an Orwellian setting that bans life’s simple pleasures. An unassuming sequence of numbers connects the two, despite being worlds apart. What Keiss has developed is enthralling and ultimately leaves the audience wondering about the fate of its characters long after they depart the theatre.
Sibylla Archdale Kalid directs this production and does so wonderfully. The positioning of characters is effective in its recital of the narrative, and the lighting effectively illustrates the most the scene’s most important parts. The innovative use of blacklight and its subsequent effect on white clothing is something quite remarkable. If developed further, this could prove an awe-inspiring theme for the entire production. Here, Catja Hamilton, the lighting designer, has created something particularly beautiful and mesmerising.
Every member of this cast portrays their role/roles beautifully. Standout performances come from Tom Mackean as Louis, who perfects the simultaneous anxiety and confidence of a boy entranced by his own mind, and Laurence Watkins as Granpy, who though initially seems a grumpy figure intent on his cucumber infused water, develops into a man who would risk it all for those he loves. An honourable mention should also be made of Adil Akram who plays Papa, Dr Azoulet, as well as the Headmaster. He compellingly switches characters, but may break the hearts of record collectors in a scene that demonstrates the all-pervasive reach of the military rule they live under.
This production certainly holds a lot of potential. Without detracting from the mystery of the two stories told, perhaps more development of the story itself would allow the audience a greater understanding of this universe, leaving them feeling all the more bewitched by this fascinating tale. Hopefully, Keiss’ work will be either revived or previewed at a larger venue, allowing for a slightly more complex set and lighting design. ‘This Last Piece of Sky’ is symbolic of the freedom we find in the small things, whether that be the transformative power of music, or the freshly fallen snow and the beginnings of new life. Above all, this is a intricately crafted dreamy peice of fringe theatre, deserving of a return to London.
‘This Last Piece of Sky’ will be playing at The Space until May 21st.