There was a sense of muted curiosity in the audience as we sat in the centre of the Westgate’s
Since its conception in 1931, Aldous Huxley’s futuristic novel, Brave New World has proven a frighteningly prescient piece of literature. Director and writer Jonathan Holloway’s adaptation is reverent to the source, but not slavishly so. It cunningly cuts many of the novel’s more trivial subplots while focusing more heavily on the story’s central themes of nature versus nurture, and the importance of individual identity. Nevertheless, Holloway’s approach appears to be more enthused by technical innovation than emotional complexity, and while his adaptation never fails to entertain as a spectacle, its stylistic approach occasionally undermines the human tragedy at the heart of the story.
Though the cast is unfettered by a fourth wall, and aided by microphones, Holloway has eschewed the opportunities this affords for naturalism in favour of a more visual, stylised form of acting similar to that of 1960s B-movie. In addition to this, designer Ryan Dawson Laight’s conceptual design is suggestive of a future as imagined by a male fashion designer from the early eighties, with costumes largely consisting of beige materials and see-through plastic (not to mention an intriguing abundance of ill-placed female undergarments).
The entire cast imbues the dialogue with an earnest yet melodramatic tone creating a strange, almost hypnotic mood that is only occasionally disturbed by violent outbursts of sincerity. This more physical, stylised approach naturally enhances those of the play’s scenes which are seen from a distance, but fares less well under the scrutiny of close up shots of actors projected onto a giant screen. Though it seems unfair to pick any actors out for individual praise, Sophie Greenham depicts the character of Poppy as tragically naïve in her hopeless struggle between a need to conform and a desire for emotional and intellectual fulfilment.
In conclusion, Creation Theatre has employed typically inventive staging and audiovisual trickery in their stylish adaptation of Brave New World. Minor niggles aside, the scope and ambition of this production is awe inspiring, and it deserves to be witnessed first hand.