Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Judy works as a journalist. One day she gets an email that suggests that if she takes her umbrella and goes along to the headquarters of an organisation, she has never heard of before, she will find plenty of interesting and frightening stuff. She takes the chance and follows her investigative instinct before finding a bizarre building based on Artificial Intelligence that controls her world. Who sent her the email is surprisingly revealed and we are left with her having to make a choice between keeping on or switching off. The caretaker who tortures, the blind lift guy, the less than secure security guards, a Welsh receptionist, her editor and now Tim all play a part in that journey.
The ensemble cast take this flight of fantasy on and run with it throughout. The guards are quite wonderfully insecure, the editor creepy and blind, the blind guy warm and intuitive, the characters trying to stop her from finding and revealing the truth incompetently able to achieve that and Judy herself a decent actor making a decent performance out of it all. In all cases they were a convincing troupe that gave a pleasant account of an unpleasant story.
With dystopia the new fantasy island this comes in similar territory to Handmaids Tale/1984 but I found it more Person of Interest as the relationship between Tim and their Machine is all too clear. It therefore works insofar as the narrative is a well worn path but it does not necessarily throw new crumbs along its way. It verges onto the “similar to” pathway whilst giving us some new characters that could do with more flesh on their bones. For example, the cameo of the caretaker and him ending up as a torturer, whilst surprising, does not hang with the previous incantation; nor does it really go anywhere after. The blind lift man has some decent lines for which he provides the foil but again I am not sure what it tells us. The #ifitissoitmustbeso hashtag for the new generation a nice touch, highlighted from the beginning and developed later on. Our hopes though are pinned on Judy where she has been and what she intends to do once she has got there.
There are some nice moments – the train scene and some of the lift work is good – but there is sequence where Judy gets pulled out of the tight spot by rope that was clumsy, and I failed to understand why it was there at all.
Overall though it was well enough directed with good use made of the space. Theatre art worked well and the space was used well. I thought the ending was well imagined and executed. Another piece from a company who seem to want to make a difference to theatre and entertainment rather than take an issue which is popular and this is no less important for that. They have shown signs of being able to handle pushing the boundaries of their craft well and I look forwards to what may be next.