The Last South: Pursuit of the Pole

The gallantry inherent in both the original memoirs transfers smoothly to the stage with the help of two accomplished actors who generously inject their own charisma into the already estimable personalities

★★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2007

Adapted from the journals of two legendary men who competed over the world’s last unknown, G.M.Calhoun’s The Last South is a hymn to the fortitude of human will. In 1912, Antarctic explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott raced for the South Pole, each propelled by a fiery determination to show their fellow men at home what they were capable of.

In this play both of the men are winners. The gallantry inherent in both the original memoirs transfers smoothly to the stage with the help of two accomplished actors who generously inject their own charisma into the already estimable personalities. In even turns they recount their perilous journeys, musing about polar sunsets, chocolate soup, and their beloved draft dogs that perish in the jaws of the ravenous cold. Calhoun's fusion of the two texts is organic and synergic. The intertwining of the two accounts transforms the play into something greater than a public reading, promoting the overarching sense of competition between the two.

Unfortunately the performance is marred by by a lack of prepation by the actors, who carry their scripts on stage in the guise of characters' journals. This may have been a first-night hiccup, and hopefully it has since been corrected.