rEvolver Festival: Never The Last

Christine Quintana, Nadeem Phillip and Molly MacKinnon Credit: Ryan Alexander McDonald
Christine Quintana, Nadeem Phillip and Molly MacKinnon
Credit: Ryan Alexander McDonald


At The Cultch May 13, 14 (matinee and evening) and 15, 2016

Posted May 13, 2016

I wish I had done my homework and read the online program notes (not, unfortunately, included in the printed program): “Berlin 1919. Violin prodigy and composer Sophie Carmen Friedman meets expressionist painter and war veteran Walter Gramatté.” So much more would have fallen into place.

Created by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana for delinquent theatre in association with the Electric Company Theatre, it features the violin music of Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, performed by the excellent but ever-present violinist Molly MacKinnon who shadows Sophie Carmen (Quintana).

Somewhere in this show is a good play but it’s awkwardly caught between delinquent theatre’s more realistic style and electric company’s impressionism.

Jenn Stewart’s set design – part of a large violin including the bridge and strings  – should have tipped me off to the direction Never The Last would eventually go. But it didn’t.

Christine Quintana Credit: Ryan Alexander McDonald
Molly MacKinnon, Christine Quintana and Nadeem Phillip
Credit: Ryan Alexander McDonald

I suspect this is the first go ‘round of this play and because I think it has a future, maybe the following would be useful:

  • incorporate dance/movement and singing earlier in the play. They feel like an afterthought
  • let us see Gramatté’s paintings earlier. They flash by so quickly and so late we get little idea of his talent. We want to know about him, too
  • cut  back on the melodrama
  • although the music is lovely, it does get kind of weird having Quintana constantly followed (stalked?) by MacKinnon
  • give Quintana something better to wear. A small point, perhaps, but Nadeem Phillip (Gramatté) looks elegant, MacKinnon (the violinist) is colourfully, prettily dressed and Quintana (Sophie Carmen) looks like a bank clerk. I know the historical character was given to wearing a suit and tie but probably not all the time. Give Quintana a chance to look enchanting as Sophie Carmen most likely was in spite of being so outspoken

Never The Last is an interesting story: two artists trying to make a go of it together. I hope delinquent theatre takes another go at it and takes a look at Brilliant!, one of the Electric Company Theatre’s early shows as an example of how elegantly, how provocatively and how dramatically a story like this can be told. Polished up, Never The Last could shine as brightly.