City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Intronauts, manipulate Festival, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Erin Roche - Posted on 07 February 2019

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Green Ginger
Emma Williams (director), Kate McStraw (creative producer), Adam Fuller (dramaturg), Preben Faye-Schjøll (dramaturg), Marianna Thallaug Wedset (lighting design), Simon Preston (composer), Emma Windsor (video content creator), Chris Pirie (Artistic director, design/fabrication), Emma Powell (design/fabrication), Izzy Bristow (design/fabrication), Nick Willsher (design/fabrication), Max Dorey (design/fabrication), Kyle Hirani (design/fabrication), Jazz Cousins (design/fabrication), Dean Sudron (technical stage manager), Tom Richmond (touring technical stage manager), David Burns (PR consultant), Paul Blakemore (photographer)
Emma Keaveney-Roys (devising performer), Adam Fuller (devising performer), Chris Pirie (devising performer)

In a marvelously mad display, Green Ginger has dazzled with the Scottish premiere of its dystopian near-future piece, Intronauts. Fusing classic sci-fi with absurd comedy, this production is a bit like if Star Trek met Mighty Boosh, with a narrative that could fit in as a more upbeat episode of Black Mirror. Captivating original music by Simon Preston, puppetry, and innovative, integrated animations make this production an absolute stand out.

You’ve heard of astronauts, but, in this futuristic time, there are now intronauts. Yes, they’re boldly going where no one has gone before; however, this time it is the inside of the human body on the horizon rather than a galaxy far, far away. Humans can now shrink themselves down to become (very) personal cleaners, carrying out “essential maintenance” on a person’s internal organs. But what happens when the problem lies somewhere in the unexplored (and forbidden) brain? The “cleaners” are not supposed to go there, but when one man desperately wants to lift his mental health struggles, he negotiates with the woman deep inside his anus...or his liver, wherever she may be at that time performing some tidying up.

The Intronaut maneuvers inside the body within a kind of submarine/VW bus, which you can’t help but think is a blatant nod to the iconic episode of The Magic School Bus, where Ms. Frizzle takes the class inside schoolmate Arnold to teach them about things like red blood cells and digestion (thank you, Lily Tomlin). The woman inside this contraption is restless and isolated, surrounded only by technology that she has nicknamed things like “Clive” (her own kind of “Wilson” moment). Although she has many a dance break and longs for the nightclub, she faces only the red abyss of the central nervous system. The man inside whom she floats and scrapes is not unlike her. He, too, is restless and isolated, surrounded only by his computer, the companion with whom he frequently plays a game of “high-five.” This commentary on the evolution of technology dovetailing with human loneliness is not lost in the slightest within the entire piece. The bit of human connection that ties the two together is the comm system that he uses to direct her to different parts of the body, the same system he uses to persuade her to ditch the rules and poke around his brain to see if she can sort out a fix for his sadness.

Like many dystopian narratives, this one draws many questions that will not be answered within the piece. How do the intronauts get more food supplies? Can they call home? What is their motive for taking this isolating job? Can they restore themselves to full size? Of course, these pragmatic questions are not the point with a production that serves, essentially, as a commentary on human connection, technology and mental health. The symbolism, set design and puppetry in this piece are astounding; a brain is seen as a giant sphere of filing cabinets after briefly appearing as a massive Pac Man game projected onto the scrim.

The only fault found is that many scenes seem to dwell too long as exposition or as vignettes that don’t drive a composite narrative; however, making technology a more central focus to the story than the characters (they don’t even have names), is likely a calculated move.

Insanely imaginative, I recounted Intronauts detail for detail later that evening to my husband, a piece perfectly suited to the Traverse and for the manipulate Festival with its social critique, fresh approach, and impressive imagery.

Intronuats ran on February 5th, 2019 at the Traverse Theatre. To see a trailer of the production, click here:
To see more productions in its tour, visit this link: