“Where the hell have you brought me to?” fellow Musos’ contributor Chicken Titz demanded of me, Captain Stavros, and rightfully so. I’ve kept her in the dark about tonight’s event thinking we’d both get a kick out of a little mystery. “What is this, some sort of lazer-tag orgy convention?' she spat scanning the crowd. Turns out what my idea of a mysterious and fun time is would be wrong, so very, very wrong. We pass a derelict pit behind Waterloo Station underneath an overpass by a chain-link fence that’s seen better days making our way to some blown out Community Theatre for the preview of Fred Deakin's “Space Opera” -The Lasters-. This performance was billed as an opera and maybe it was an opera in the sense that opera’s terrible.
Thinking this would be a performance of some prestige naturally we've arrived early and hungry so like far out cosmic black hole brethren we decided to consume the space time around us by shovelling Cuban food and Sangria into our gobs to pass the time. Full of hope, and food, we waddled over to the venue a few hundred feet away and awaited a unique and memorable experience as we queued up. At first, it genuinely seemed pretty cool set behind Waterloo Station - the vibes were post-apocalyptic-alley-meets-ghetto-chic dumpster fire with all the trimmings of a 2 star halfway house (coincidentally also the same rating of Fred's former graphic design company in Japan). Naturally we’d never feel compelled of our own free will to traverse this sort of landscape but an assignment is an assignment.
Titz peers over the rim of her wine glass as she shoves a fistful of cheeses and cured meats into her face, sneering at me as we co-pen this article at my flat, she’s reading over my shoulder as I’m typing. “Maybe shut-up and get on with it” fair-play, we’ve got a lot to unpack here. She’s pulled up The Lasters KickStarter and points at some figures, my jaw drops. When giving a man (child) like Fred Deakin essentially carte blanche to do what he pleases with 35K (a 350% crowd funded blank-cheque) he’ll go ahead and produce a lazily and slapped together poorly written excuse of a musical a.k.a. Space Opera. A little backstory on Fred before the backstory of this story. Fred is a disc jockey. After Titz here spent several minutes Googling him to see if he played any instruments involving keys that weren't on a laptop all we could come up with were a list of various digital firms that were opened and closed (failed) all with exclamation marks! These included several mixed media companies and a bunch of 404'd websites, one common thread ran throughout all of Fred’s achievements: Fred really likes telling people about his story. Always with the story. You’d think with so much practice telling stories he’d actually be able to do so coherently and convincingly, not so. You might be asking yourself around this point ‘what type of people would fund this sort of self-indulgent behaviour?’ I mean, we definitely asked and if you did, well, we're glad you asked.
The funders, the fans, the fanatics all dressed in uniform with their The Lasters t-shirts handed out freely upon entrance in whatever size you wanted (except ours) made up the crowd this evening. These uniformed bodies filled the folding chairs of the theatre to capacity. Pensioners, human resource workers, off-off-off Broadway enthusiasts and laser-tag aficionados, people who needed to keep their buzz topped up throughout the performance hitting the bar over and over just to make it through, the list goes on... Strangers that were also compelled by their own compulsions to share their stories with each other at maximum volume over the top of one another in the over-crowded bar serving room temperature drinks at refrigerated prices, in much the same fervor as our good ole buddy Fred, birds of a feather. The only problem was that Titz and I didn't have any feathers, we just didn't fit in so we avoided eye contact at all costs and stole away into a corner by the toilets. I think the both of us respectively had a different idea of what 'Space' meant to us and the sagas within it (Titz is nodding and topping up our wine), but there's an audience for everything I suppose.
Anyway, so Fred walks on stage in traditional Japanese kimono-top, bowing Buddha style, his palms together, and that was more than enough to trigger Titz' (she’s half Japanese). “No Japanese person wants to see a white gaijin doing that shit”. He begins th(w)anking everyone involved in producing The Lasters, from the audience to his wife (not present) for the moral support. He jokingly eludes to his wife's role differing from that of actual contributor to his work and also different to 2017's drama 'The Wife', where Glenn Close is considered intellectual, graceful, charming and diplomatic, whereas Joe is casual, vain and enjoys his very public role......................obviously not anything like Fred or his wife. Next we’re introduced to the musicians: Stephen Huw Davies in a boiler suit with sunglasses (which we later found out doubled as a space helmet), Abby Sinclair, Fred's daughter in the opera, came off as a toddler in overalls, would decide the fate of Earth’s last family. She really did look like a lady version of Chucky. It should be mentioned she made the best of a bad situation with a stand alone performance, clear vocals, solid dance moves and multi-skilled musician swapping between guitar and bass. Charlotte 'The Labia' Hatherley with her tight tights and hip length mac left nothing to the imagination (Titz and I were in the front row), hence her nick-name. Charlotte also sang beautifully and effortlessly shredded her way through all the licks on her guitar. All were miserably dressed for a Space Opera though and really took away from the theatrics. Fred, where did all that crowdfunding budget go? Clearly not towards wardrobe.
The Lasters is a continuous 73 minute (which felt like 73 hours) soul-destroying performance involving multi-platform stage and screen adobe flash shows/powerpoint presentations rolled up in a college boy-thinly written story; all was assembled using a crew of talented musicians who were essentially glorified marionettes that had no choice on what they were playing, singing, speaking or how they were dressed as Fred essentially masturbated himself mouthing his own lyrics and dialogue throughout the performance in the background as the musicians just tried to get through it. The opera starts off like this, with the backstory. The adult population of earth is irradiated due to nuclear fallout as a direct result of using technology (we shit you not), but their children have come through alright. I guess no one's told Fred that sperm count, 1st generation radiation childbirth and the resulting defects don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but we digress. This has all come about as stated earlier due mostly in part to 'tech' which is now forbidden on Earth. It appears for some reason a family, one family, sans matriarch populates the entire planet. Inexplicably after Abby’s character leaves Earth in search for her mother in the last quarter Mars begins a vast bombing campaign on what’s left of Earth (un-populated) for seemingly no reason at all other than to destroy what’s left of the vacant husk of a planet. The main protagonist chases a hologram version of her mother across the galaxy/universe along with some uncredited alien species guiding her and giving her hope. Her father is also in tow? Even though he doesn’t board a space-ship but does get a duet with his hologram ex-wife, Fred’s singing (speaking in wavering tone deaf glorified talking) induced major cringe. Upon Abby reuniting with her now dead mother/hologram Fred chases her with a laser (we don’t even get to see the laser) for a bit, who even cares? I’m done with this trash and going along with its nonsensical journey it reads like a schizophrenic monologue. Sorry for the outburst but Titz just read the plot out to me off the Kickstarter page and it fried my fucking brains. A man and a woman leading opposing civil factions were the only people that decided to populate and live on Earth as a family. Still, one left anyway. Worst civil war ever. Comparable, by Fred, to 'War of the Worlds' and 'Quadrophenia', I wish I could eye-roll harder on paper.
We could sit here all night trashing The Lasters and in fact we have and have had a great time doing it. We've gone through a ton of snacks, a bottle of wine and half a bottle of spiced vodka smuggled back from Poland, brewed in who knows where and who knows how all while we've struggled trying to remember what The Lasters was even about or if we liked it? We both agreed in the end that we endured a meaningless performance that we could’ve done without. What sage lessons other than that did we walk away with though? We decided the best memories and lessons learned in hindsight came from before and after The Lasters. First of all, we shouldn't have rushed eating Cuban food. Secondly we should’ve had more Sangria, we also should've ordered another plate or 10 of food. We discovered a new 'space' in London that we’d consider revisiting; if we were ever to get stuck in the Waterloo area we'll know where to go to kill some time in style. We remember ripping by the Thames on my motorbike and stopping because the moon was just so full framed by the London-Eye and reminiscing about the past couple of weeks and even our day, in the end The Lasters made us appreciate anything that wasn't that horrid ‘Opera’ and everything that was us, and maybe that was the point in the end? ChikenTitz doesn’t think so. We feel that maybe we walked away breaking even but we definitely enjoyed the ride. So, watch/listen at your own peril, ride at your own risk. If we've learned something from this traumatic experience, it's probably that if you believe anything is possible, maybe it is?