The Last Show of Mr Chardish – The Death of Theatre
If a fan of theatre you may be, “The Last Show of Mr Chardish” is a sight to see.
A flash of a pan this sequence of events, nostalgia and regret this tale laments.
But while heartache may yet lead to forgiveness or dejection,
First be captured by this tale of ambition and affection.
For a few months in 1956, the theatre of Lindfield was a sight to behold. Magnificent plays with incredible set and costume design, headlined by some of the finest talent the world did ever see, could be witnessed by anyone with a passion for the dramatic. Or, so the tale goes.
Taking clear inspiration from 2017’s What Remains of Edith Finch, The Last Show of Mr Chardish is a first-person narrative game through an empty structure with a variety of “gamey” interstitials dotted throughout a linear path. While not quite as varied in gameplay as Edith Finch’s segments, Mr Chardish uses the structure to produce a more focused, if heavily metaphorical, tale of wistful intent and tragic consequences.
The Last Show of Mr Chardish opens up in 1976 from the perspective of Ella as she heads back to the infamous, now abandoned, Lindfield theatre. With tape player in hand, you guide Ella through the remains of a once aspirational structure, reliving and reminiscing over the thoughts, feelings, and mistakes of Ella’s one-time playwright and director, Mr Chardish.
Making her way through the incredibly detailed building, Ella will encounter various masks to don her facade, experiencing various plays built around particular emotions and storylines related to the overarching narrative. Each chapter plays out from a third-person perspective, with light mechanics reflecting the tone of the play.
These scenes are quite visually stunning, with various aesthetics built from within VR. This unique style of creation definitely leads to a distinctive style, more reminiscent of the art created in Media Molecules Dreams than your regular video game fare.
Each of the scenes has their positives, all of which communicate their message effectively. Each play is better than the last, crescendoing in an excellent finale that brought a tear to this player’s eye.
Within the theatre, the background of what happened all those years ago will slowly fill in. Between the audio recordings that play throughout, along with the optional slightly hidden snippets found throughout each play, the superb voice work builds a strong sense of history between both the people surrounding the performances of the Lindfield theatre and the theatre itself.
As is part and parcel with this form of game nowadays, there are collectable notes scattered around the theatre, bolstering the aforementioned voice work. A letter from a fan here and instructions on hairstyles there puts you in the headspace of what it would be like being a part of the crew behind such performances.
A passing knowledge of theatre will definitely help you feel more immersed in the drama at play here, but isn’t strictly necessary to enjoy the very human story throughout The Last Show of Mr Chardish. The more you dive into the metaphors and abstractions that are brought to bare, the more affecting this experience will be. Developers Punk Notion succeed in what they have built here, weaving a vivid tale more than worth the few hours of your time.
And so the tale of Mr Chardish comes to a close, but stick in your mind will its joys and woes.
As talented Ella begins to reminisce, perchance you will find a lesson in this.
For where theatrics and drama you may come to seek,
Instead feel a wistful tear roll down your cheek.