Paul Birch’s technological thriller takes audiences on a journey through reality and the inner workings of the dominated virtual world we live in today. Audiences are made to feel under surveillance, as the stage space is littered with tall screens and futuristic style set pieces that entrap one within the robotically inspired storyline.
Social media, political broadcasts and even the day to day news are all results of the ever growing and complicated digital world we live in today. The piece demonstrates the mechanics of this by factoring in themes such as artificial intelligence and digital warfare to beg the question of whether technology is beneficial, or whether it is leading us down a path we will never return from. Thankfully this is explored through a inter generational cast, and therefore the performance draws upon both younger and older viewpoints to drive the digital argument further.
The performers on set, mostly in their teens, come on in groups quite regularly throughout the production, performing robotic style movements and calling out facts about the digital world we experience on a whole. These stiff and forced movements give the facts more context, and make you feel as though you are addressing a lifeless bunch of cyber men (apologies for the Doctor Who pun) and not living beings. Moments like this, enhanced in part by the dark and mysterious storyline, demonstrates the forced and direct approach the cast are aiming for, as well as clearly displaying measured and impactful facts to support the piece on a whole. “326, the average amount of times we look at our phone each day”, is an edited quote taken from the piece that clearly is built to shock a viewer and makes one question his or her digital behaviour more often.
Issues on the performance as a whole stem from the complex plot, which is very vague and tough to untangle, as well as the lack of audience response to the supposedly ‘jokey’ moments of the play, where the laughs just fall flat. Perhaps also the change of set pieces, although supportive of looming virtual control in parts, seem to happen too readily and in a rather laboured way, detracting from the youth theatre’s obvious hard work.
Overall, a couple of loose cords, but on a whole a well powered performance that provides plenty of action, and little buffering boredom. The York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre team should be pleased with their mechanised inspired masterpiece, as audiences are left questioning and overthinking the world we live in today. Virtually vital content that’s worth a watch! 2.5/5
Review written by Luke Redhead.
Legacy was shown at the York Theatre Royal from Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th April 2018 at the York Theatre Royal.