Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Futurology: A Global Revue" - April 2007

"Futurology: A Global Revue" has been put together by Suspect Culture, National Theatre of Scotland and Brighton Festival and the basic premise of the piece is an international conference of delegates brought together to discuss the problems facing the planet - with specific reference to climate change. Although not a musical it has strong musical theatre elements, along with dance and touches of observational, satirical and physical comedy. The closest in structure I've come to this before was Scottish Youth Theatre's "Ugly Duckling" where a tale is used as a mechanism to give each performer their own moment to shine.

Now before I go any further, I need to declare that in general musicals do absolutely nothing for me and with one or two exceptions the aren't the kind of thing I enjoy - I just don't buy into the whole singing/dancing thing. So please keep that in mind when considering my thoughts on "Futurology".

I'm not going to go into much detail on the plot as I think it benefits from going in to this largely blind, but the first of two main strands involves following the delegate from the tiny Sandwich Islands as she negotiates convention politics - both national and personal. The second strand is set around the relationship of the host mayor with his public outside the walls of the convention centre. The two intertwine well with several of the cast of 8 playing multiple roles.

The format works well with each performer getting their chance as a delegate to address the conference or come to the forefront by other means and express their nations views through their own particular skill/speciality. Some of the set pieces work better than others - with "Whistle Bang" my favourite of the song and dance numbers and our "ventriloquist" act a comedic highlight. Our "host couple" formed a nice double act and other cast members were also impressive - detailing them here would ruin some of the fun. The use of Powerpoint also provided some nice additional amusement. Perhaps because of the cabaret structure I didn't have the same issues I have with musicals generally and I quickly found myself fully involved with the show.

There are problems with some of the songs - although tonight was a preview I felt the sound levels should really have been better, and for one or two of the songs it was difficult to pick out the lyrics - a shame, as the ones I caught were worth hearing. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed as the run progresses.

I'm also not sure how effective the production is at achieving its presumed aims of highlighting issues of climate change. Some of the speeches get a little preachy and I found the show working best as an observational piece about conferences in general rather than the global warming issue, but overall the resounding impression is just one of great fun.

"Futurology" as a vision of the future? Mmm, not sure. As a vision of the future of Musical Theatre? Yes please. Definitely worth seeing if you can on its tour of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen & Brighton.

1 Heckle

Statler said...

Don't be put off by the fact that this is being staged in venues not traditioanlly known for theatre. The venue previously known as "The Big Red Shed" actually worked very well - better than it does for music concerts. And anyway it seems perfectly appropriate that it be performed in place associated in Glasgow with the circus.