It’s 2051 and the world is, of course, in the midst of a climate catastrophe. Floods, fires, and record temperatures are ravaging the planet worse than ever. In a diving bell descending to the floor of the North Sea, three men work on an oil rig. Pressure mounts – and pressure mounts – the lower they get, and their technology and mental health begin to fail.
This is the UK Premiere of Alhierd Bacharevic’s epic political and fantasy thriller, by Belarus Free Theatre. The original novel is banned in Belarus and the theatre company are now based in the UK, after seeking asylum following the Belarusian authorities attacking them for their plays and politics. It originally ran in 2019 in Minsk, and then across Europe in secret venues. The Barbican show – postponed from 2020 – is on a much larger scale, which works wonderfully with the epic feel of the show. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is present in mind whilst watching the show, making it seem even more prophetic than it may have been a couple of years ago.
The particularly dark and damp Cavern is a perfect location for V+15 what with its references to the trains passing overhead, as well as the mysterious, dystopian theme that runs throughout the play. Jo Sutherland’s writing is philosophical, political and fast-paced with twists and turns at every corner, and the direction from Sara Reimers is naturalistic and engaging, but a bit lacking in its ability to bring out the characters’ emotions. Whether this is down to the actors, the direction, or the script, it is hard to tell. It could be a combination of all three.
The Network Theatre Company has put together a brilliant night of short plays that are certainly entertaining, if slightly alarming about where the world is heading. The Future is Mental gives us an assemblage of six near-future, ‘soft-dystopian’ stories, admittedly inspired by Black Mirror, that makes us take a step back and really rethink our present lifestyles.
What if two women could make a baby without any sperm donors?
This is the central question of this play by Lauren Gibson. It sounds like the premise of a Black Mirror episode – and it would make a great one if based on this play – in which we explore the moral and emotional dilemmas of an equally promising and dystopian scientific advancement could cause.
I’ve devoured dystopian fiction for many years and recently realised the novels I’ve read might actually be handbooks for how to survive the future. I’ve wondered when theatre is going to really capture this complex genre. Then along came The Process.
John Daniel and Noni are the last people on Bear Ridge Mountain. The butchers/petrol station/corner shop that has been in the family for decades is long closed. The village below them is abandoned and planes fly threateningly over head. As they bide their time in this empty, Beckettian hellscape crowded with the ghosts of fraying memories, a stranger appears out of the snow and threatens what little stability they have left.
Nuclear war has broken out and most of North America has been destroyed. The bombs are getting closer to London, and there are fewer escape options now that the borders are closed. There’s a sex commune in Wales, or the opportunity to join an alien species on another planet seeking a cis het couple to perpetuate the human race. Liam and Tess have applied for the latter.
As the world feels more and more like a dystopian nightmare that could explode at any moment from greed and relentless late capitalism, it’s unsurprising that young people are worried about their future. Sounds Like Chaos are a soothing balm for them, though. The associate company at the Albany supports referred and self-referred 12-21 year olds with training, employment opportunities and opportunities to make theatre, treating them with respect and valuing their ideas. Their latest ensemble work is set in the near future, using music, projections and ritual to critique online culture.
In post-Brexit Britain, the oyster industry struggles. Work is hard and profits are low. But when oyster harvester Captain von Toch sees mysterious images on the ship’s sonar and discovers a new creature that can quickly be taught fine motor skills, he revitalises his business and changes the course of the human race’s destiny.