Battersea Arts Centre, London – until 29 June 2019
I loved Little Bulb Theatre’s last production Orpheus so much I saw it twice, so I was really excited to see their new work The Future. It projects us into the world of three scientists who, with the help of a compere/conductor/presenter (Clare Beresford), explore super intelligence – AI – and the impact it will have on humanity. This being Little Bulb their take is executed with quirkiness, music and song.
The scientists wear tinfoil on their heads and have an idiosyncratic way of talking that manages to be nerdy, dry and humorous all at the same time. Shamira Turner is particularly brilliant in her style of delivery.
AI is represented by a box on a stand – the genie contained – and the play (and its rock-inflected songs) explore the good and bad of living with super intelligence. Scenarios and presentations are played out by the scientists in their own quirky style of fun and you find yourself laughing at them just as much as with.
Sometimes points are embellished with songs which, hand on heart, I didn’t like much. It’s a personal thing, I find it hard to engage with narrative delivered in this way and musical theatre does have a tendency to make me cringe. Sorry.
It did temper my enjoyment, but there was a lot I did like, the eccentric inventiveness of what Little Bulb has done is thoroughly entertaining.
Artificial intelligence is a meaty topic and not one that is going to be properly explored and challenged in 60 minutes but The Future touches on some interesting aspects of the debate, creating a platform for further discussion.
Little Bulb Theatre: The Future, Battersea Arts Centre 2019. Photo: Adam Trigg
All the characters in the play are based on real scientists with some dramatic license and we are left with a selection of their written works,which inspired the piece, to peruse.
See The Future at Battersea Arts Centre until June 29th.
It’s 60 minutes without an interval and it gets ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for inventiveness and fun but ⭐️⭐️ for the songs.
You might also like to read:
My review of Little Bulb’s Orpheus
Fringe review: Woke, Battersea Arts Centre, a powerful look at American civil rights activism now and in the 70s.
From the archives: Remembering the travellator in the Young Vic’s production of Joseph K with Rory Kinnear.
And more about Little Bulb Theatre.
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