Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Future Bodies

Co-creators Clare Duffy, Abbi Greenland, Helen Goalen, Jon Spooner and Becky Wilkie
HOME and Unlimited Theatre, with RashDash
HOME
28 September 2018 to 13 October 2018

Having your life hacked by your mobile is of course part of being human these days. But how far can it go? How far will it go?

While so many are already practically glued to them, in the world envisaged here those phones will be glued inside them. Having a handheld is so yesterday.

And it goes on from there. Implant Me, Upload Me, Upgrade Me.

But then what’s human and what’s not? Here there’s a serial killer who refuses to have his brain tinkered with, preferring to remain as he is until executed; over there is a lover who doesn’t want to have her brain integrated into a machine because she will lose her body and all that goes with it.

As the crib sheet being proffered on the way out explains it: “The technology of the future is being developed, in part, by very intelligent and/or very well-funded people who believe that death is just a technical glitch and immortality is genuinely possible. The human being is being upgraded. This is terrifying and exciting and it’s coming – whether we like it or not.”

This unusual and thought-provoking mix of words, music, philosophy, quantum physics and captions is an adjunct to the Manchester Science Festival (Oct 18-28), created by Manchester-based RashDash and Unlimited Theatre from Leeds, the result of a great deal of research.

Staged in HOME’s studio theatre, it’s performed on a large raised tray-like platform, covered in dark sand, and surrounded by hefty vertical plastic blinds that are tugged to and fro by the cast.

Away to one side, one-person band Becky Wilkie, in all-blue, including face, performs her own rock score. Extremely slick captions, an integral part of the whole mix, flash up all over the place, including right next to the actors as they speak the words, very clever.

And almost always pretty engrossing, until it gets to the last 15 minutes (of 90) or so, when the meta-speculation about the future of the human race morphs into a sequence where the cast strip to their underwear and start marching about on and playing around in that sand. I didn’t understand what was going on here and it was boring anyway. But apart from that, an interesting experience.

Reviewer: Alan Hulme