Last Resort

In Last Resort, we are inducted into the horrors of Guantanamo Bay – badly

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Last Resort
Published 11 Aug 2017

We are greeted with a cocktail, a Cuba libre; “communist rum and American capitalist Coca-Cola.” Deckchairs in a particular shade of orange are arranged in rows, with bags of sand (“your own private beach”) at their feet. Inescapably, however, the basement space has a penal, bunker feel... because this, in an imagined future, is the Guantanamo Bay private holiday resort. Late checkout is standard, early checkout is “subject to availability”.

Drawing on research with MOD-trained interrogators and the human rights charity Reprieve, Last Resort highlights the abominations faced by Gitmo detainees by distorting typically innocent leisure activities. In a 'stretching' session, the audience adopts what is actually a stress position, and is told to hold it for “one, two, three, four... hours” – the maximum time legally. Bingo becomes a sprightly roll call of appalling facts; number 20 – the hour limit for a continuous interrogation.

Horror, then, is in no shortage here – but the gravity of the show’s subject and intent is let down by the two performers, or resort 'reps'. Menace is diffused by flat delivery, with awkward, drawn-out interactions such as a discussion over banned books sapping tension.

During the show, the audience shifts from the position of detainee, rather grimly induced to imagine being waterboarded in a 'meditation' session, to a far more complicit position. Watching one of the performers choking as he is force-fed a jerry can of mixed alcohol—which we have had a hand in adding to—no one moves. The brutal culpability entailed in this experience is the most powerful sequence in an otherwise oddly sluggish piece of theatre.