Future Bodies: "Stop Being Normal"
A montage of two-person sketches explores the human relationship with the machine from a scattergun of different angles. Ultimately, Future Bodies becomes a question of the human relationship with our own corporeal being.
Can we cure death? Can machines feel love? Does gender even exist without a bodily container? The technology is presented from a philosophical aspect, a scientist’s perspective and through the fervent appeals of those who benefit commercially. Intrinsically a play about morality, this production escapes didacticism in favour of kaleidoscopic, exuberant exploration.
This six-man production champions accessibility at its core. Subtitles projected throughout are a glimpse at the futuristic setting, albeit sometimes drawing attention from the action at hand. Future Bodies is wild, it’s weird and it’s colourfully challenging.
Clare Duffy’s script is eloquently written, comedically at odds with the sparkling outfits and playful, anarchic music. The scientifically specific writing, combined with lively design and motion, makes for a future that is at once dystopian and uncannily possible. This is daring science fiction at its most worryingly familiar.
Becky Wilkie sews the whole production together with her avant-garde musical stylings. Her one-woman band delivers seamless looping of guttural sounds. Stood on a glittering mini stage, she also brings a sense of self-parody, in her alien get-up straight out of Fifth Element. In particular, the song ‘I Don’t Have the Money for your Tech’ temporarily turns the production into a vibrant music video, whilst leaving a poignant question lingering: what does the future look like for the people who advancement leaves behind?
The cast bounce off of eachother in such a way that the fast-paced chopping and changing of scenes glides between characters. It would be wrong to highlight favourites amidst the collective; each performer meticulously manifests every role they are tasked with. Characters are given little time to develop meaning that personalities must be established instantly. The actors onstage are tasked with emphasising the fleetingness of our bodily selves and do so with prowess.
Set design by Rhys Jarman transforms the bare studio space at Home into a futuristic abattoir. It is a triumphant encasement for a wealth of big ideas. A plastic curtain shrouds the performers, allowing them to slip clearly between realities and scenes, whilst also acting as a backdrop for layers of projection.
The final scene sees the production sink into a primal, animalistic explosion of bodily embodiment. Earthy tones, primitive drumming and an exploration of touch defines this hedonistic indulgence. The play is henceforth removed from the intense textual intricacies of science and technology. In doing so, the company force their audience to pay particular attention, desperately seeking out some semblance of logic. Yet there is no attempt to convince us one way or the other. Future Bodies is an attack on the senses. It is comic, yet with a deep sense of sadness; carefully crafted chaos...
Future Bodies plays at Home, Manchester until 13th October. Visit the Home website for tickets and more information.
Photos by Jonathan Keenan