Directed by Joshua Roche, we are shown a fascinating insight of a near future world in which those in charge although not present in this telling, decide the fate of the community they speak for which result in war, environmental damage and protesting. This take place over a long period of time although told in short episodic chapters with 4 actors (Jules Chan, Pandora Colin, Pía Laborde-Noguez, Daniel York Loh) taking a new role in each scene and tell the stories of those willing to give up everything for the causes they believe in and remind us they are just like us, not ‘heroic or remarkable’ but people fighting for sustainability of community. We are transported through lifetimes watching the after effects of believing in our leaders, the damage of glorifying one person and that allows us to question whether empathy or power succeeds.
Written very beautifully by Joel Tan, they explore a wide range of issues that we may describe as dystopian but perhaps are becoming more common in our conversations today. We are launched into several different lives all changed by the war, environment and devastating grief. More interestingly, people who have no power to change a thing, only voices to scream and bodies to sacrifice for the cause. It definitely gives us lots of to discuss as it’s jam packed but also leaves us wanting more as some stories create such a life outside their scene I was left asking questions about how we got to this society, when it happened and why are we only fighting now. Sometimes with the episodic telling it doesn’t quite shape the world we are getting a glance into, possibly that’s the point as this is a story focusing on the community, but I still felt eager for an explanation of location and time.
We are set in a very enclosed space with layers and layers of black and white material ballooning from the ceiling and a very minimal set with one tall pillar which is later used as a memorial to the fallen from the war. The only bursts of colour came from the bird feathers that fall from the ground which at first represented a mass murder of wildlife but then the mass murder of the community. This fell more frequently towards the climax of the play which didn’t quite set off the emotional reaction I was hoping it might have, possibly as they were swept up in a strange still image afterwards that felt almost too long setting the pace back to neutral. It was a shame that a play with such force and fire fell on the back foot slightly, I’m not sure if this was intentional to allow us to breath with the characters but it felt unfortunately quite slow for a war-torn country fuelled by rage and hope.
I felt the passion of a show tackling issues like this, you can sense Tan’s frustration along with the people he writes and left us with a longing that perhaps we are ready too far gone. That our nature ultimately is to destroy each other and this repeating cycle with continue far past our short time on earth.
Playing until 18th June, https://theatre503.com/
Reviewer: Alice Rose
Reviewed: 7th June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★