Thursday 4 October 2018

REVIEW: Future Bodies - HOME, Manchester

“THE FUTURE IS COMING. STOP BEING NORMAL”, a header with a threatening presence on the programme. Home and Unlimited Theatre, in collaboration with RashDash have devised a contemporary performance which explored the blurry line between being a biological person and a technological person.

The technology of the future is currently in development by very intelligent people and business men in suits, who believe death is just a computer virus that can be fixed. Is immortality possible?
Breaking news: the human being is being upgraded. It’s a frightening and thrilling glimpse into the future and it’s coming – whether we like it or not. All the companies have come together to theatricalise the positive and negative implications of real and cutting-edge developments in human enhancement technology.

Rhys Jarman’s striking set involved a proscenium arch frame and a stage within a stage design. It had see-through curtains, which also performed as a screen for the projected subtitles. The performance was made accessible to those who were blind or deaf. As indeed, some of the actors were deaf or partially blind too. The dirt all over the stage within a stage was one of the only natural things left in this non-natural world.

Of course, Becky Willkie (music composer and singer) had her special corner for music and instruments. Willkie’s singing voice was as impressive as ever: with an edgy rock tone, a bright head voice, and stylistic screeches.

A number of conventional scenes played out, each scene gave a different perspective on the notion that the mind could be uploaded to a computer; no longer could you be biologically human. They were like case studies and each scene title was projected onto the screen. The actors played imaginative and convincing characters in various scenarios.

The writing was intelligent, focused, and thought provoking. What if we could improve bodies? What if we could cure deafness, blindness, or illnesses? Would you want that to happen? Would you want to let something unnatural interfere with something natural? Could it be a relief to be not so mystical and unknowable? What’s free will again? The future has become a chip in your brain. This show was an extreme form of “Big Brother”.

Alison Halstead delivered a monologue from an older person’s standpoint. Her performance was completely enthralling. One of the lines: “I want to remember, but not hurt”, hits you right in the heart. Her character suggested using her older brain to experiment with. Another stimulating scene proposed the possibility of reprogramming prisoner’s brains. Giving a murderer who was about to be executed, one last chance to transform his life. 

A physical and quite long piece formed the end of the performance. The actors took the audience back to the time of cave people - showing them to be animalistic, instinctive, and emotional human beings. This entire scene appeared to be improvised or maybe parts of it were? By this point the show had turned positively messy, playful, energetic, instinctive, freeing, and liberating. All things human. This made a lovely change from the large quantity of fascinating information that had been conveyed to us beforehand.

To summarise: Future Bodies is a theatrical work of such intelligence and life-force. Each of these theatre companies are at the top of their game.

Reviewer – Sam Lowe
On – 3/10/18

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