Writer: Nigel Kneale,
Adaptor: Ross Kelly
Director: Ross Kelly and Daniel Thackeray
Reviewer: Tracey Lowe
Given the proliferation of reality TV shows the British public has tolerated over the last few years, this play, written originally in 1968, is as poignant as ever. Set in a fictional future, humans have become a society regularly shown pornography on television, and encouraged to “watch, not do”, in order to keep the population under control. When a protester is killed during a live broadcast, television producers realise the audience revel in watching other peoples’ misfortune, and adapt their programming accordingly.
It’s a pretty high-concept piece, and quite a challenge to perform in a small space as part of a Fringe festival. Nevertheless, this is a very successful adaptation. Alastair Gillies did a great job as frustrated protagonist Nat Mender, and Benjamin Patterson was frequently terrifying as the cool but corrupt TV producer Lasar Opie. Louise Hamer was wonderful as the vapid airhead TV presenter Misch.
The staging was basic and sparse, with the control desk for the TV producers providing the main set piece, as an eerie constant reminder of the omnipresence of the television cameras. The relatively large cast worked well together, although there were occasions when the stage looked a little cramped. This was clearly a very ambitious project, but given the strength of Nigel Kneale’s brilliant original idea and the newly adapted text, this was a current and interesting play.