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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

REVIEW: Future Bodies at Newcastle Northern Stage

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HOME & Unlimited Theatre co-production in collaboration with RashDash present:
Future Bodies
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Thursday 18th October 2018

Unlimited Theatre return to Northern Stage with another cracker. We wouldn’t expect anything else. Their shows have been thought provoking whether they were family shows like Mission To Mars, a game show concept MONEY The Gameshow or mind boggling drama such as The Noise. Add in a touch of RashDash and we have a very deep, yet accessible show.

This is another show which combines scientific ideas with a devastating twist of ethics. What is the relationship that we have with our brains? Would we want to upgrade our personal capacity? Should we build in features such as sat nav or mobile phones? Would you want a company adding chips to your brain and sending you upgrades? Will these upgrades be any more successful than the ones on our laptops?

Then we can push the concept further: What if our children could have a distinct advantage if we approve their upgrades? What if our employer had access to our internal voice? If we uploaded our brain to a different substrate, will we be considered to be alive even if our physical body is dead? This is a big set of questions that are not that far from needing to be answered soon. Funnily enough, as I left the theatre I witnessed a number of students milling around outside all wired up to their phones – perhaps this is the next logical step?

Arriving in Stage 2, the set is imposing in the performance space. The frame was reminiscent of Mission To Mars. In the window of the frame was a plastic curtain, like the type you see on a cold store. This would be used as both a backdrop and a projection screen as the dialogue and song lyrics were projected on the set. On the left was a musical performance stage on which Becky White would deliver live dressed in futuristic blue (remember Hazel O’Connor in the final big stage scene in Breaking Glass?)

The sound design can be described as loud as it filled the room with either music or sound effects. Lighting picked off the action around the set which eventually revealed itself to be a box with a soil filled floor.

This is very much an ensemble piece. The cast of 6 engaging in a series of skits to describe both the technology and the ethics behind it. From the parent refusing to have their children fitted through to the employee questioning the lack of privacy that such a fitting would make. They are thoroughly engaging and they quickly draw you in to this world without giving a value judgement – that is something that they leave to the audience.  To the cast’s credit: it is easy to follow the constantly changing foci as the action moves from one pair of actors to another group.

This is very much a thought-provoking piece that had my brain working overtime as I drove home. It was also an entertaining show as you relate to each event on stage. As someone who enjoys the ability to switch off I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being hooked up to the grid. The openness of the presentation enables the audience to make up their own mind – so the rest of the audience may disagree with me.

Having said that, I’m not sure what was happening on the final 15 minutes. I don’t mind admitting I was lost there!

I look forward to seeing what Unlimited and RashDash come up with next.

Review by Stephen Oliver



Cast and Creatives:
Co-created by Clare Duffy, Abbi Greenland, Helen Goalen, Jon Spooner and Becky Wilkie
Script by Clare Duffy and Abbi Greenland
Original songs and music by Becky Wilkie
Performed by Deshaye Gayle, Alison Halstead, Kate Maravan, Lara Steward, Yusra Warsarma and Becky Wilkie
Directed by Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland
Set and Costume design by Rhys Jarman
Lighting & Video Design by Josh Pharo and Sarah Readman
Sound Design by Becky Wilkie and Joel Clements
Stage Managed by Alyssa Watts, Alice Winter and Amy Chandler  

Photos: Jonathan Keenan

Tickets:
FUTURE BODIES - TUE 16 – THU 18 OCT 7.45pm at Northern Stage 
Tickets from £10
Recommended age: 16+

Tickets available online from www.northernstage.co.uk/Event/future-bodies or from the box office on: 0191 230 5151

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