Set over 3 acts, Surprises follows the lives and loves of a handful of characters over 100 years or so. Covering issues such as celebrity, money, virtual sex, cheating and heartbreak, the characters prove that no matter how many technological and bodily improvements we have – the characters have a life expectancy of around 180 years – the fundamental human emotions such as love, longing and loneliness can never been improved or eradicated. If we can’t fix our minds to keep up with bodily improvements, is it worth it – and if we do, at what point to we cease becoming human beings?
Portraying subject matters we can all relate to – first love, dying love, soulmates and separation – the play is bittersweet. We can replace our body parts and systems to achieve longevity, but does this make life any better? Can we create an android with human emotions, and if so do they make a legitimate partner? Do 100 years of holidays mean they lose their magic, even if we can travel to Mars? Are we meant to love someone for more than 50 years, or is it inevitable that we will always outgrow each other and love will always die?
Featuring the inevitable time travel and androids, the play explores whether going back in time and changing a key event in life will lead to a better future or are some things destined to be – think The Butterfly Effect without the violence. And talking of violence, this seems to have been eradicated in the future, as is procreation – these were significant gaps which I would like to have seen explored.
Thought-provoking and at times moving, but featuring no big Surprises, the play didn’t quite live up to its name. However the performances were all strong (my favourite being Laura Doddington’s portrayal of Sylvia, the 80-year-old spinster who finally finds love in a cybersex playroom) and it was an interesting exploration of love, humanity and emotional frailty.