Thursday, July 18

Minority Report – The Rep, Birmingham

Science fiction doesn’t work on stage. There I’ve said it. Someone had to. What was the last great science fiction stage play you saw? No, me neither. It’s a genre born of, and best suited to, cinema. From Metropolis to Dune sci-fi’s visual imagery has played equal part to its plots and philosophy. Sadly, no matter how dexterous and inventive the stage design, it’ll never quite capture a cinematic experience. Though, without doubt, one of the more outstanding elements of this production is Tal Rosner’s ethereal digital design perfectly evoking the virtual world of the near future.

The play, based of Phil K.Dick’s short story riddled with Cold War paranoia, is about pre crime. The capacity to identify a murderer before they commit a murder and arrest them. Whilst this is explained by the fabulous Chrissy Brooke (digitally re-gendered from male to female in David Haig’s adaptation) in a surprisingly long prologue the twist is revealed as the explainer herself is soon on the run accused of a pre crime herself. And the play has a domino effect of non-stop action thereafter right up to the denouement. It cracks along merrily with climatic twists and turns, but I couldn’t help thinking we didn’t know enough about the main character to care about whether they were caught or not.

Photo: Marc Brenner

The history of theatre ebbs and flows and thrives or starves depending on the economic zeitgeist. Years ago, when money was scarce companies would exhume Macbeth or a battered old melodrama to assure box office sales. At the moment, ransacking Blockbusters for fondly remember titles seems the way ahead and it certainly proved so last night as the place was packed. But David Haig’s adaptation took risks. Not just a simple recreation of the movie. It was replanted to the UK and the lead, as mentioned, was female. It was a brave attempt to do things differently.

Max Webster’s deft and assured direction managed the more melodramatic elements well and was embellished by Jon Bausor’s excellent design itself complimented by Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting design.

Nicholas Rowe (as Ralph) and Nick Fletcher (as George) hold solid positions amidst the fast-paced plot (plus occasional lazy story coincidences) and Tanvi Virmani merits special mention for her quirky and comic virtual Alexa-lite PA oddly renamed David by the playwright, David Haig.

Roseanna Frascona as Ana, Jodie McNee as Julie, Xenoa Campbell-Legister as Michelle, Ricardo Castro as Sergeant Harris and Danny Collins as Fleming complete the task.

At 90 minutes the play doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and we’re all out in the rain by five past nine.

Playing until 6th April,

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 26th March 2025

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.