Things I liked about Lists for the End of the World:
- That they try to tap into the nostalgia that gives a little warm glow from trivial but personally important things.
- That they blend future/past/present.
- The line: “I’d steal all my ex-husband’s money and donate it to charities he’d hate.”
- It reminded me of Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing.
- The aim: “Make someone laugh in another language.” This was one of a few moments that conjured a silent smile and a little shiver of warmth, like when you think back on a happy memory.
- The moments of crossover from separate lists like: “I love you”, “Fuck”.
- That it made me want to write my own set of lists about goals and reflections.
- That their lists don’t have a number so they could always either be complete or always have the potential of having more items added.
- The list: “Times my eight-year-old self would be proud of me.”
- That they let me in when I was four minutes late.
Things I didn’t like about Lists for the End of the World:
- That actually, when you think about it, it simply seems to steal some of the best bits from Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing and doesn’t offer much in way of authenticity.
- That the cast of four read out certain lists like Oscar speeches and dark confessions, overacting as if they carry far more emotional weight than they actually do.
- That they are too emotional. The joy of lists is their matter-of-factness. They are a way to dissipate stress and excess emotions by laying them out on a page. They are an organisational function. Their delight is precisely the lack of emotion. No matter how frivolous the list, they carry logic and reason, and try to do away with overly passionate feelings. Here, it felt like the production team had a sweet collection of lists pinned on a wall and decided that the best way to stage it was by throwing intense balls of emotions at them, like that balloon-paint scene in The Princess Diaries.
- There is no undercurrent of story.
- It’s like a Forced Ents list-reeling endurance test without the endurance.
- The game seems more fun for them than for us.
- All shows are in a tougher position in Edinburgh than in a usual run of a show because audiences are generally seeing several shows a day, so the “meh” shows tip out people’s minds if they’re not either spectacularly good or astonishingly bad. Because of this, companies are under pressure to try to make more of an impact. With Lists for the End of the World, they suffered from their own attempt to get us to sit up and pay attention through the cheesy music, dramatic emotional switches and over-energetic direction. Really, their movements around stage were an unnecessary distraction. The crowd-sourced lists were delightful, blending the lightness and darkness of every life, at once nodding to individuality and the lack of originality of human beings. Unfortunately, for us to enjoy the lists, it didn’t really need to be a play.
- The cheesy song choices.
Lists for the End of the World was on at Summerhall during the Edinburgh Fringe 2017. More info here.