REVIEW: Brighton Festival: The Last Resort

May 20, 2016


The Last Resort

Art Of Disappearing

World Premiere
Commissioned by Brighton Festival

Amidst a barren landscape, a neon light stands bleak and stark. Welcome to The Last Resort. For those brave enough to return to this long deserted resort, beauty, science fiction and history merge to create a unique outdoor experience.

The back story is pretentious Sci-Fi, not quite Ian Banks mulched with too much Dr Who and the artists on the day were uncommitted, enjoying some tongue in cheek engagement to seep out or perhaps they had allowed the desolation of the contrasts of Adele’s million pound mansion with it’s obscene private beach and the Basin Road car park to  enter their soul and were glad of some real close human warmth. If so, it betrayed its essence  which seems to be about the lack of humanity: billed as a touristic time travelling experience with echoes of the past clashing with  reconstructed & revisionist historical ideas of long lost architecture; the ‘Last Resort’ of the piece. This is a commissioned piece from Art Of Disappearing, artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr for the Brighton Festival.

You experience it in pairs, protected against the elements, both real and imagined, earphones enclose you in their world and off you go, across the blasted pebbles…


The soundscape effectively deafens you to anything other than it, and it’s effective in silencing the usual running commentary a couple indulge in at these sorts of things, although nothing could silence the devastation of the softly raised eyebrow of my companion, however… it is an effective way of making people engage with one another physically, through touch, sensations and shared experience. These are the most effective and evocative parts of the experience, this bonding, the shared, the holding of hands, and the wandering out into the unknown together. The narration goes on (and on), the accent slips a touch and a soft technologically beguiling women’s voice would have been easier to bear.  I thought the back story over blown and not quite completely dedicated and the dénouement suitably depressing and reflected perfectly in the wind blasted industrial wasteland of Portslade beach and Shoreham harbour.


We left with the solace of having done something together, something oddly intimate and exploratory. Not quite fun but certainly engaging and thoughtful.  It’s an odd combination of Samuel Becket and Alan Bennett, unintentionally funny when clashing with the unpolished reality around us; the lorry drivers peeking out from their curtained decorated cabs, the bemused cyclists dashing past, the hardy nudist on the beach looking like a leatherback turtle trying to recline on a granite Chesterfield wondering what the f**k we were up to.  Wonderfully potty and I’m pretty sure the creators of the project were un-aware of the nudist beach or lorry park and the type of ‘usage’ it attracts, but if they were then I congratulate them on the surreal, very British experience that The Last Resort was. I felt a little like Scarlett Johansson in ‘Under the Skin’ just in a plastic poncho and just a little. I wish I had had the forethought to enhance my experience but driving out there meant no large brandy’s for me. (Tip: Smuggle a hip flask in if you can.)


We liked it, although it felt more Whitstable Festival of the Avant Guard than a world premiere of a commissioned memento mori for the Brighton Festival. There is a gift shop, but the things to buy are both overpriced and undesirable, I thought it was part of the ‘ironic’ installation but it was genuine, it made me laugh out loud.  We engaged (and teased) the artists taking part, as it’s always good to see how far they can/will go, they quickly became charming people and fell out of character under any kind of pressure.  I recall the wondrous days of Shunt and the level of engagement and commitment to these kinds of site specific installation pieces which makes them fly.

But “you can’t have it all!”, as the faked up Last Resort publicity might have said….”where would you put it?

Saturday 7 – Sunday 29 May (no performances Monday & Tuesday)

Wednesday – Friday, 2pm – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 9pm