TRCH

Theatre Review: Brave New World at The Television Workshop

23 March 19 words: Cleo Asabre-Holt

Written by award-winning playwright Dawn King, Brave New World is the theatre adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel of the same name. We got down to The Television Workshop, to see the performance as part of their 2019 Play Season..

The play opens in a lab in a futuristic dystopia known as The World State. Here, thousands of embryos are engineered through artificial means (think formulas, Petri dishes and conical flasks), in order to maintain impeccable equilibrium. Superior and highly regarded, laboratory director Thomas Galsworthy (played by Charles Evans) offers a tour where seemingly contented, white-coated scientists conduct their work.

Thanks to the development of the genetically modified drug ‘Soma’, which annihilates anxiety, the emotionally unavailable citizens are able to function in The World State, where people are always happy, never complain and want for nothing. Life may be pain-free but it is meaningless.

There is a strict five-caste system: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon, of which the domineering Margaret Mond (Jessica Reilly) is chief, keeping everything in order and everybody in check. Citizens reflect on the life of non-genetically modified humans - known as Savages - living without Soma. The mere mention of natural processes such as birth, parenthood, ageing and death induces horror and abhorrence.

However, during a tour to the Savage Reservation there is a shocking twist; brought on by the introduction of the emotionally sensitive John (Amy Keen), and complex yet charismatic Linda (Asha Lawson-Haynes). The integrity of The World State is questioned and chaos ensues, with irreversible consequences.

Despite the bleak and clinical themes explored, comedy is embedded from start to finish – particularly from one subservient Delta citizen (Erica Hardy-Fry). A clear commentary on the way we live our lives, this contemporary theatre production is seamlessly executed. With atmospheric lighting and effective visual aesthetic (Gemma Casely-Kirk, Phoebe Pritchard and Ben Welch), the TV Workshop cast exhibit flawless synchronicity and stellar performances throughout.

The Television Workshop website

NTU

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