I don’t want comfort. I want danger. I want freedom. I want sin.
Touring Consortium Theatre Company presents a brand new stage production of Brave New World adapted by the famous playwright Dawn King. A ground-breaking novel, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, tells the story of a London in 2540AD where a genetically engineered class system brings stability and order to the world. This world was directly influenced by issues in Britain (mass unemployment and discontent) in the 1930s, when Huxley wrote the novel, and designed to prevent them happening again.
Dawn King has managed to incorporate modern ideals into Huxley’s 1930s text, most notably with the casting of Sophie Ward as Margaret Mond (originally a male character in the book), the powerful Regional World Controller. Giving a strong performance Ward proves to be an asset to the production, although some could argue that the casting strays from Huxley’s original text and the fact it was never meant to be an idealistic society.
The set for Brave New World was extremely interactive and paramount to the play’s overall appearance and performance. Dacre’s direction provided a fluid production with seamless set changes handled by the actors as part of their movements. With heavy use of screens built into the set, the show took on an almost film-like appearance. A significant use of media and sounds meant it became a completely immersive experience with events such as the ‘copters’ flying through the air coming to life on stage, where without the media used, they might have fallen flat. Especially clever was the portrayal of the drug soma through the screens as it helped the audience imagine the effect it had on the characters and how integral soma was to the Brave New World in blunting emotions and keeping people under control. The comparison between alcoholism and soma use was well portrayed and very effective – it was clear that soma was addictive and it is a testament to the technical direction that this was able to be conveyed on stage.
Impressively King managed to weave a lot of comedy into what could otherwise have been a very dry, dark, scientific script, lightening the whole performance and making the otherwise uncomfortable areas easier to deal with and process. Most worthy of mention was William Postlethwaite’s performance as John the Savage, whose dialogue was interspersed with perfectly timed quotes of Shakespeare throughout the show, which had the whole audience chuckling every time. Although the second half was less humorous and focused on the theme of love, loss and rebellion, King still managed to insert little comedic scenes that softened the eventual blow of losing one of the more favoured characters.
Every cast member performed fantastically; giving their all to a challenging script and making a farfetched world appear believable on stage. The direction interestingly incorporated choreography and some dance movements which worked extremely well especially when dealing with the portrayal of sex which is a very prevalent part of Huxleys new society – the idea that everyone should have pleasure (sex) whenever one wants being reinforced by the idea everyone belongs to each other. Relationships and emotions are removed in this new world as they are considered detrimental to stability of the society which is a very interesting concept and the production explored it well.
I would thoroughly recommend catching Brave New World whilst it is at King’s Theatre (Tuesday 29th September to Saturday 3rd October 2015). It is an incredibly well thought-out production that does credit to a classic text that translates extremely well onto the stage.