Chronic Insanity has been making theatre since 2012. Set up by Nat Henderson who, in typical small theatre company fashion, combines many roles such as playwright, director, performer, costume designer, make up artist and still finds time for her Artistic Director role and studying for her Masters in English Studies. Her Co-Artistic Director Joe Strickland is also a good juggler and combines being an up and coming director with being a writer, producer and performer whilst researching for a PHD looking at Future Experience Technologies with a focus on Drama and Performance. Their interest in this area has prompted them to look at a slightly different approach to theatre using technology to give the ‘theatre goer’ interactivity so that each viewer may have a slightly different experience.
Over a twelve-month period, Chronic Insanity decided to put on one show per month in a 12-month project, and Myles Away is show 11. The hope is that this experience will help them to develop as theatre makers, but also to help contribute to Nottingham’s live theatre scene. Their 12-month experience is to be filmed and documented to assist up and coming theatre makers and to expand their viewing community to outside of Nottingham.
Written by Tennexa Freeman and Joe Strickland, Myles Away explores how we are assigned a gender at birth via chromosome’s, but this may not always fit our perception of ourselves, hence the need for some people to question whether they are identified as the correct gender. The AWAY virtual reality software allows people in this situation to experience life as the gender they feel they should be. Created by Myles Gordon (T L Thompson) (who has himself had his gender re-assigned); AWAY was his brainchild, but to make this a reality he needed investors. As very often happens in these situations, Myles no longer has control of the company and the Board have decided to terminate his employment. Will (Markese McLamb), who has had a free ride on Myles’ coat tails, is behind the decision and seems more interested in the money the company can make without Myles’ interference.
Myles is very bitter, and with the help of his AI Assistant BINA, he has a plan to stop the planned expansion of the AWAY product, which will make it unaffordable for the average person.
This is where the viewer comes in! You decide for yourself how the play should continue. The interactive nature of this show means that two different people with different views on the fundamentals of the play could make different decisions, therefore, altering their whole experience. This lends itself perfectly to the online environment, as most people have access to a computer, and it adds another dimension to a standard theatrical production. Directed by Schereeya Reed and Joe Strickland, the performance element and the interactive part of the play gelled together well. With good performances from Thompson and McLamb, this is an innovative look at the question of should capitalism have such direct involvement in such a sensitive personal issue.
If you are a techy or simply would like a different type of theatrical experience at home this is worth a look. This theatre company are innovators and should be encouraged to further develop their ideas.
‘Myles Away’ is available until 2nd August 2020. From 24th August 2020 until 30th August 2020, there will be another production available called ’52 Souls’.
To buy a ticket for Myles Away go to https://www.tickettailor.com/events/chronicinsanity
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 30th July 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★