I want danger. I want freedom. I want sin. I don’t want comfort.
Brave New World is a dystopian novel adapted from page to stage, set 600 years in the future in a world where humans have created an “ideal society” through test tube babies and complex genetic engineering.
Adapted by Dawn King, the play cleverly addresses the audience as new recruits as they guide them through the lab where humans are created. The humans are genetically modified to fit into a caste system named after the greek alphabet. Ranging from Alpha where the humans withold intellectual superiority to Epsilon, humans created with no sense of smell as their purpose lies merely to work in the sewers.
Among this futuristic world are savages, humans that still marry, have babies and live as we do today.
The whole concept of the play is excellent, with Naomi Dawson’s intricate stage design which captures the innovative technology of the future. The stage is surrounded by flashing screens, moving images and impressive light displays.
Bernard, played by Gruffudd Glyn, is an Alpha plus that feels second-rate to the other Alphas. He goes on an expedition with another Lab worker Lenina (Olivia Morgan) to a savage reservation. They meet John the Savage (William Postlethwaite) a man shaped by Shakespeare, who has strong emotions and questions about the society he is living in, making him a threat to the genetically designed humans.
Morgan has an integral role in the play, her character Lenina is compassionless. She is just another clone in an Anna Wintour style wig conforming to society’s standards. Yet after her encounter with John the Savage, she develops a crush on him and ultimately develops opinions and feelings.
Whilst sticking quite closely to the novel, King emphasises certain aspects of the overuse of technology to make everything perfect creating fear over how this could actually happen in the future.
A dynamic electro soundtrack from These New Puritans gives the play an exciting pace and a strong pulse, enhancing the intensity of the story. Movement is used to keep the fluidity of the play, this was highly effective particularly when choreography is used to portray sex which is viewed as highly significant in society. Reinforcing the idea that “everybody belongs to everybody else” and everybody deserves pleasure, despite the fact that love and emotion is extinct.
All humans regularly take the drug SOMA which balances their emotions to make them happy, creating robotic characters all conveying the same emotion.
Brave New World is gripping, thought provoking and leaves the audience with so many questions regarding the future of our own society.
Brave New World is on at Wolverhampton Grand until the 7th of November and tickets can be found here.