Despite the lack of formal scripting, the new play by Dreamthinkspeak has a clear and definite voice. It says without any hesitation:
‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.’
Book of Revelation: Chapter 22; verse 13
So we are tossed between moments of regeneration and destruction as we navigate are own way through the underground passages of Somerset House. In contrast to the cold and still courtyard, the populous passages are buzzing with activity in parts, whilst others suffer dreary and dark isolation. It is a journey that rials up your suspicion and tests your naked vulnerability- to which I must apologise to the poor steward, who I screamed at as he emerged from the shadows.
Dreamthinkspeak is always a cocktail of film, installation and live performance that can be enjoyed at any pace, but it is advised that it not be taken too quickly in fear of missing some of the flavour, but not too slowly to negate the hit that comes with spontaneous navigation and quick intuitive decisions.
As you enter the rooms the threads of the story are revealed and allow each person to make their own tapestry as you weave together the turn of events as you experience them. Broadly speaking it will recount the innovation of a European company which employs pioneers and scientists to produce new technology that will overcome daily grievances or mundane activities, like making tea or feeling stressed. The company, however is operating at a loss and its destruction seems imminent.
The play is swollen with an apocalyptic anxiety that may be as old as Leonardo Da Vinci (who is cited a the start point for the plays conception and the play itself) but is given a new poignancy in our contemporary situation of economic down turn and fateful prophecies. We are becoming increasingly obsessed with the digital world and developing technology to make life easier with quick fix solutions. This play is a bleak warning of the latter as we are encouraged to recognise ourselves (however embarrassing it may be) in the line of people who tread the corridors like zombies.
The play is beautifully choreographed with an exciting attention to detail that only artistic director Tristain Sharp can be credited for. Every prop and item is saturated with other references either biblical or scientific, which allows the play to reach beyond its performance and gather momentum in afterthought. Whether we should see the play as a prophesy or a warning should perhaps be tempered by this rich historical perspective and perhaps from that we can gather hope. After all, we have been here before, haven’t we?
At Somerset House until March 30 2013.