Gate Theatre, London – until 17 March 2018
A couple who have been together for either 14 years or three weeks argues as the world around them threatens to collapse. Or maybe it’s collapsed already. An Uber driver writes a book about the fall of civilisation. A lonely woman in a hotel room surveys her destructive work in the financial sector. Time passes and bends and flips. Personal and global crises unfold in an endless cycle of pain and rage.
But this is no dystopian fare. It’s an honest world view/art installation/deconstruction of society today. The post-narrative, collage structure is vibrant and chaotic, but so is real life. Jude Christian easily transitions from the micro- to macrocosmic in Falk Richter’s script, but also embraces its changeability.
There are big themes at work here, with the ability to find momentary pleasure in a world that’s falling apart one of the more resonant. Feeling trapped, both by capitalist systems and broken relationships, is another. Though perhaps a particularly millennial perspective what with the generation’s livelihoods being at the mercy of house prices, the gig economy and Brexit, the sense of helplessness and frustration at pretty much everything in the world is spot on.
Whilst the text doesn’t follow an arc of rising action, the set certainly does. A mostly bare stage is gradually filled with stuff of all sorts, with larger set pieces labelled with angular black tape. If this is a show that thematically captures the millennial experience, the design does as well – we all meticulously curate the image we broadcast to others, particularly online. Our lives are an art installation reaching for the approval and validation of a multimedia world.
The diverse cast cuts an excellent ensemble, though there are some moments of awkward delivery – this could be down to some clumsy translation. An overly long introductory monologue and a closing yoga sequence are further issues, but the majority of the work is sound in its content and form.
This attack on capitalist structures that have ruined the lives and livelihoods of an entire generation is sharp and well-staged, with striking imagery and conflict that lingers to powerful effect. Though the opening and closing lack the impact of the piece as a whole, there’s a confident ferocity that feels like the start of a revolution.