The juxtaposition of darkness and light has long been a recipe for theatre ‘magic’ – a simple, but very effective combination. Devising a story that utilises this to the fullest, director George Mann of Theatre Ad Infinitum has created a show that wears its literary and cinematic influences on its sleeve. Just off the top of my head I counted Tron, The Matrix, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Dark City, Total Recall and the oeuvre of Philip K Dick, to name but a few references.
Set in a dystopia where citizens’ thoughts are monitored through implants, an agent is sent by ‘Daddy’ (think ‘Big Brother’) to locate and root out the leader of the Resistance. The leader is found, but the origins of the surveillance regime are unearthed and choices must be made…
Light doesn’t use dialogue, but it does utilise surtitles, mime and an electronic score that complements the action. The lack of reliance on the spoken word lends the show itself to those who are hard of hearing and works particularly well for deaf actor Matty Gurney, whose expressive face is pitch perfect for this unique show.
On the technical front, the versatility of the manual lighting denoting computer consoles, elevators, interrogation cells or LED thought messages is as varied as it is innovative.
If one had to be critical about the show, it’s that its familiar dystopian themes (which obviously has a resonance with the findings of Edward Snowden) are also its weakness so that from a plot perspective, there aren’t many true surprises. However, if like me, you go to enjoy the spectacle and marvel at the technical wizardry onstage, there’s more than enough to hold one’s attention and won’t feel short-changed that there’s nothing to see. On a separate note, it was good that to see a show – that on the surface has a traditional male/sci-fi bias – have a gender-balanced cast.
© Michael Davis 2017
Light runs at Battersea Arts Centre until 17th June 2017.
CAST: Charli Dubery, Matty Gurney, Deborah Pugh, Michael Sharman, Ben Thompson