Last Man Out by Steve May

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Last Man Out by Steve May (1998). Dir. Ned Chaillet. Perf. Louise Lombard, Donald Sumpter. BBC Radio 4 Extra, 20 Mar. 2015. BBCiPlayer

"Thirty-Minute Theatre" was a much-lamented slot in the BBC schedules that gave opportunities for new writers to flex their dramatic muscles. Often performed with small casts, they also gave opportunities for actors to develop characters in an incredibly concentrated form.

"Last Man Out" is a good example of this type of drama. Late on at a jazz bar hotel manager Jill (Louise Lombard) tries to get rid of drummer Henry (Donald Sumpter), but finds the process more difficult than she anticipated. He tends to be somewhat slow in packing away his drums, and appears to be thinking more about himself rather than the demands placed upon him by the licensing laws. Jill adopts a peremptory approach, being somewhat brusque, but her pleas fall upon deaf ears.

As the drama unfolds, so the relationship between the two ill-matched characters begins to change. Henry turns out to be prone to panic attacks, but possesses a peculiar strength of character. Jill does not really want to evict Henry; the pleasure of his company stimulates reflection on her past, and stimulates her behavior for the future. In the end she does not particularly want him to leave, and is prepared to go to extreme lengths to enforce her will.

A drama of ebbing highs and lows, "Last Man Out" follows a familiar path in terms of plot, but is performed with intensity by the two actors.