Light, Pleasance Dome, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Theatre Ad Infinitum
Director and Writer George Mann (writer / director), Nir Paldi (associate director), Chris Bartholomew (composer), Becki Haines (associate producer), Matthew Leventhall (lighting adviser), Fiammetta Horvat (costume / set designer), Omar Elerian, Liran Fisher and Nir Paldi (dramaturgs). Co-devised by the cast.
Matthew Gurney, Kim Heron, Deborah Pugh, Shane Shambhu, Michael Sharman.
Running time

It’s just another day at the dystopian office of Peace of Mind HQ for Agent Petros - or it would be except for the nightmares he has been having.

His is a future world where everyone is connected and communication is possible by thought transfer. The same technology also gives the Government an ability to secretly monitor the very thoughts of the population and represents an end of terror, where citizens have nothing to fear - as long as they comply.

There are however free thinkers, those rebels who have illegally disconnected. This is a threat Petros must deal with, and if they won’t comply they must be broken. His journey will take him into dark Mindspace as he searches out Dr Neilson, whose clinic is aiding the dissenters. He will eventually come face to face with the woman who has been haunting his dreams, learn his true origins and that of the Peace of Mind Project and become pivotal in the State struggle.

The story is played out in near darkness through physical, non-verbal storytelling, filmic, graphic novel-inspired visuals and live-mixed soundscape.

All the settings from the domestic (with automatic personal hygiene), to mass transit, bars and interrogation rooms are woven from light and conjured from thin air. The physical movements of the actors are precision synchronised and pinpoint accurate so that characters seem to defy the laws of space and time.

It is worth repeating one of science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke’s “laws”, which states that "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible". There is no doubt that Theatre Ad Infinitum have pushed theatrical boundaries with this production in terms of its visual style. Some of the effects achieved with little more than movement, torches and LED strips are stunning to a point where they comply with another of Clarke's laws that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The production is slick, unique and so visually impressive that it’s possible to be dazzled by Light. This would however ignore that the thin plot is a derivative mash-up of science fiction movies, with genre clichés of the “Luke, I am your father” to “Only you can save the universe” type. Where the plot strays for its main strand the narrative tends to get lost in the darkness and it might benefit from fewer forays into fight scenes. For those less familiar with graphic novels these may come over as comic book “Blam! / Pow!”. For a piece with such a strong technological feel a more elegant solution should also be found for the occasional surtitles.

It’s now 65 years since the benchmark dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four was published. We may not still be talking about Light after such a period of time, but in terms of its technique it marks a brave new world.

Show Times: 30 July -25 August 2014 (not 11, 18 ) at 5.15pm.

Ticket Prices: £10 (£8.50) - £13 (£12).

Suitability: 12+