The Last Session

4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)

Gideon is in the studio for the last time, recording an album for his long-term partner. Tomorrow he'll be dead, his suicide planned as a desperate attempt to wrestle back control from Aids, which has reduced his life to a downward spiral of ineffective, painful drug therapies and the indignity of universal sympathy.

As he sits down at the piano to record his last tape, his attempt at Krapp-ing is crapped on by the entrance of Buddy, a plucky, cow-licked Baptist boy inspired by Gideon's music, but revolted by his homosexuality.

HIV-positive US songwriter Steve Schalchlin's musical is a beautiful cry of pain with a surface smoothness that conceals an honest and heartfelt engagement with the messy realities of intolerance, artistry and terminal illness. Its familiar themes and cast of characters suggest cliché, but this is short-circuited at every turn by Schalchlin's bold refusal to accept easy answers and convenient oppositions.

Darren Day excels as Gideon. The power of his voice was never in question, but he ably proves his acting chops in a challenging and multi-layered role. AJ Dean is equally superb as Buddy, and Ron Emslie provides crotchety comic relief as long-suffering studio owner Jim.

But the real star here is Schalchlin. Opening ballad 'Save Me a Seat' could reduce the Westboro Baptist Church to tears, and 'Friendly Fire', which describes Gideon's painful medical treatments as a self-defeating military conflict with no hope of victory, is fiercely intelligent. This is a terrific, little-known musical, and one that deserves considerable success in its London debut.


Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

Simply amazing and touching. Such lovey songs going on during the show. I absolutely enjoyed it. This is a must. Darren Day's acting was superb.

Thoroughly enjoyed the show - saw it yesterday, not knowing what to expect, but it had me hooked from the outset. Fantastic songs, a plot that actually has a lot of humour in it despite the sombre bigger picture, and an amazing cast, all with incredible voices.

When my gf came how and said we were going to see this show I was apprehensive. I am more of a We Will Rock You kinda guy. Even when the show began I felt awkward - "seeing a serious musical". However within 10 minutes I was hooked. The performances felt honest and true, the comedy was big and bold - I got totally involved when I realised that if the man who wrote was making jokes around his illness and such a serious one, it was ok to laugh. This show totally impressed me. You could almost touch the performers. One big shock to me was Darren Day - thought a bad boy could never get away with the role of a gay man - but he had me convinced.

This was a wonderful up close and personal theatre, tucked behind the busy London Streets. Despite seeing the show on the first night and after a hard day at work, this grabbed me from the offset and kept me entertained with the beautiful lyrics and brilliant singing ability of the whole cast. Well done to #everyone !! You guys made my night, as you all brought the essence of your characters.

I have not been so moved in a show for so long, clever writing, amazing score and Lyrics and outstanding performances from all. Was a little worried that the producers having Darren Day in the lead would detract from the piece. In fact he and the rest of the cast are mesmerising. The show tackles the sensitive subject matter well and the frequent humour keeps it on track. I came out buzzing with the joys of life ! Well done all involved. Could not recommend more !

I LOVED this show. Darren Day was amazing, so compelling, and the whole ensemble was just breathtaking. It's so touching, emotional, funny. I just loved it.