The Future is Mental at the Vaults
Tonight, the Network Theatre hosts a dystopian future in which six female-fronted plays reflect modern societies many of us have seen in the likes of Netflix’s Black Mirror and the novels of Margaret Atwood.
The first of the pieces, Decluttering, shows Suzie de Lezameta portraying a housewife with great emotion. It is a riveting drama that tells the story of one woman’s survival in the aftermath of her infant’s death whilst living with an abusive husband. Employing the help of a cleaner, she calmly organises household items using the Marie Kondo method, with dark undertones continually stirring underneath.
The prospect of an all-knowing artificial intelligence is much too real in The Best Possible Candidate, where a virtual assistant – not unlike Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri – leads to the very plausible event of technology getting the better of us. Possessing an altogether frightening individualistic nature and voiced by Lio Lylark, the assistant gives a menacing performance. The Best Possible Candidate is a warning about the quickly advancing AI surrounding humans. Writer and director Rosie de Vekey cleverly poses the question: what if AI computers are secretly in contact with each other and are always listening, even when switched off?
Celebrity life is well depicted in The Other Side, where Americans Christina and Cat are the saccharine hyper-siblings living out their reality TV show days. When Cat receives a life-changing diagnosis, we see Christina’s self-involved preoccupation with keeping her musical career alive come through. Vekey’s writing manages to tread the fine line between humour and seriousness, revealing the murky shallowness of stardom.
The idea that technology can be used to help decipher people’s feelings is proposed by the King of England in Mood Lighting. Instructed to wear small lights on wrists to mark emotions – green is happy, blue is sad – Alice (Honor Palmer–Tomkinson) searches for a way to deal with her depression.
A stalwart political Speaker (Emma Byrne) divulges the policy of removing an entire generation of men once they reach 70 in the final instalment, Three Score and Ten.
The political thread weaving through these stories comes in the form of electing a new Prime Minister, which is headed by an increasingly haggard facilitator (Matthew Gill). When a randomly chosen member of the audience is picked, it shines a light on how anyone can become a politician, with or without the right morals; Vekey’s short pieces are an intimidating reminder that our dystopian futures may not be so distant after all.
The Future is Mental is at the Vaults from 18th February until 23rd February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.