Last Rites

Feb 5 2024 | By More

★★★★☆     Stunning performance

Manipulate Festival 2024
The Studio: Sat 3 Feb – Sun 4 Feb
Review by Allan Wilson

Following the award-winning success of Love Beyond (Act of Remembrance) in last year’s Manipulate Festival, Ramesh Meyyappan has produced another stunning performance in Last Rites, which he co-created with George Mann, who also directs this Ad Infinitum production.

Last Rites is a moving non-verbal, solo show in which Meyyappan uses British Sign Language, movement and expression to tell the story of a Deaf man living in the UK, who returns to the land of his birth on finding out that his father is dying.

Ramesh Meyyappan in Ad Infinitum’s Last Rites. Pic Camilla Greenwell

Although Meyyappan’s character loved his father very much, they had become estranged and had not seen each other for ten years. When his father dies, as the eldest son, he has the duty to perform his father’s funeral rites within 24 hours.

As he sits washing the body of the father, the son reflects on their lives together, the issues that had come between them and the love they still had for each other. The reflections become a dialogue, re-enacting scenes from the past, with Meyyappan sometimes putting on the father’s glasses to represent the dead man. On other occasions he lies prone on a mat to represent the dead body.

Two issues in particular had come between them: the refusal of the father to learn sign language to allow them to communicate without barriers and his repeated refusal to answer the son’s question about why the Hindu faith has so many gods, which eventually led to the son abandoning his faith.

creative captioning

Meyyappan’s energetic and emotional performance, using his whole body, combined with creative captioning, allows him to interact and engage with both the large deaf, Deaf and hard of hearing audiences, and the hearing audience. Sometimes he is deeply emotional, sometimes he is playful, but he is always engaging.

Ramesh Meyyappan in Ad Infinitum’s Last Rites. Pic Camilla Greenwell

George Mann’s direction is excellent, making good use of the whole stage and helping to engage the audience, while Tayo Akinbode’s sound design and composition incorporating chattering voices, white noise, Indian dance music and deep bass lines is suitably atmospheric and recognises the needs of some members of the deaf, Deaf and hard of hearing community.

Chris Harrisson’s video and projection design, particularly the temple and cloud images, also contribute to developing and maintaining the atmosphere, and Ali Hunter makes excellent use of her lighting skills.

Last Rites is a powerful and moving representation of the importance of retaining memories when a relationship has been cut short by death. It provides a moving representation of love, loss, grief and what it means to be a parent.

Running Time: One hour and 10 minutes (no interval)
The Studio, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL
Sat 3/Sun 4 Feb 2024
Sat: 6pm, Sun 8pm.

Ramesh Meyyappan in Ad Infinitum’s Last Rites. Pic Camilla Greenwell


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