The Last Garden is the poignant one-man show at this year’s Fringe that you need to see
What would you do if you were the last person on earth? For the main character of The Last Garden, the answer is tend to a collection of flowers inside a garbage can, which just happens to be the last few flowers in the entire world. With the peak of his career as a florist achieved, he waits to die. Because when it’s the end of world, what else is there to do?
The Last Garden is a one-man show performed by Tanner Manson at the 2018 Victoria Fringe Festival. Featuring monologues, singing, dancing, a ukulele, and a portable red radio, Manson’s main character tries to keep himself occupied from thinking about the end of the world. He tells himself stories he’s heard over the years or stories from his life. (One of the stories he tells is about a flower up in space; he wonders if it’s lonely up there or if it’s even still alive.)
But despite the interesting distractions, he can’t really ignore the reality of his situation. He might be the last person on earth, or he might not be. He doesn’t know. He wonders about how humanity got to this point, and how badly we’ve damaged the earth. The world is ending, and there’s nothing he can do about that. So he tends to this garbage can that has a daisy, a sunflower, a branch of a tree, a rose, and a lilac. Because it’s something.
He can’t save the world. But he’s got some flowers, and that’s worth something.
Despite being a story about the end of the world, The Last Garden is striking in how very quiet and personal of a story it is. Just one guy telling stories, sharing dirty jokes, and dancing as he contemplates his situation and the state of the world.
And we never forget the underlying fact that the world is ending. We can see that the main character is trying to stay positive, but he can’t escape reality. Everything is ending, and he’s alive to see it. He’s got the last few flowers on earth, and that’s all that’s left for him to do. He can’t save the world, or humanity — whatever’s left of it. But he’s got some flowers, and that’s worth something.
The Last Garden ends on an open but bleak note, but I can’t imagine it ending any other way. The play may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a quiet story mixed with existential dread about the end of the world — along with some good dirty jokes — give The Last Garden a shot.
The Last Garden plays at the Roxy Theatre (Fringe Venue 6)
Friday Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m. / Saturday Sep. 1, 12:15 p.m. / Sunday Sep. 2, 4:30 p.m.
$11/ $9 student & senior
Fringe wristband required