Charting the lonely and grey days of a woman who believes she is the last of her kind, The Last Siren recounts her laments through improvised sound, art and vocals. Ian Wilson’s collaboration with The Quiet Club (Danny McCarthy and Mick O’Shea) and singer Lauren Kinsella provokes a yearning for company and recognition. It is drawn from the Greek story of the Sirens and set on a beach bookended by Odysseus and Orpheus.
The ambience is powerfully established and maintained throughout the performance, with chilling tones reminiscent of the sea and rain echoing around the theatre from the moment the audience enters. Kinsella’s entrance to the sparse stage in a yellow mac and black evening gown pulling a toy horse on wheels is compelling, and indeed she holds the audience captive in her performance until the end. Unfortunately, this wonder is soon to diminish once the first quarter of the simply designed play is through. The lack of variety in the soundscape fails to make use of the true magic of improvised control, though Kinsella’s character succeeds in drawing attention as her pining melodies contrast the noise.
The childlike gurgles and sounds from another language that Kinsella exhibits perfectly shows the realms a trained voice can explore, with the scattered items washed ashore aiding her in the makings of a mad woman. Wilson’s words are sweet and fresh in her voice, allowing her yearning for attention from Odysseus and Orpheus (portrayed by The Quiet Club surrounded by their wires) to garnish sympathy from the audience for a brief few moments, until her hankering is again drowned out by the deafening “loneliness”.
While there are occasions where the grasp of the audience’s attention is lost, the true testament lies in the ability of the performers to quickly recapture it, with the right notes in perfect dissonance chiming together on a high or a low. Emotive and affective, The Last Siren is a stimulating experience for the ears, to say the least.