A new adaptation of Alduous Huxley’s Brave New World is currently touring and it will be at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 7 November. Adapted by Dawn King with original music by These New Puritans, this play packs a punch right from the beginning.
Brave New World, is widely considered to be one of the finest and most prophetic dystopian novels of the twentieth century. It was first published in 1932, and is widely seen to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century, anticipating developments in reproductive technology, psychological manipulation and behavioural conditioning.
With Thomas the Director welcoming us (as an audience) to the reproductive ‘company’ as if we were new employees, this ‘audience interaction’ from Thomas (played by James Howard, who was perfectly cast) demonstrated a ‘brain-washing’ technique as he flashed a smile and spouted propaganda. The scene was set from the beginning, employees of the ‘company’ have been conditioned to think and behave in a certain manner. However, it becomes evident that they’ve not only been conditioned, but also bred in captivity. Margaret Mond is the Regional World Controller for Western Europe and is played eloquently by Sophie Ward. When she lists the ways that the world has changed (and indeed her involvement in it) it’s shocking to hear that mothers and father as we know them no longer exist, love is eradicated because it goes hand in hand with hate and the removal of these makes people ‘happier’. Alphas, betas, deltas, gammas – they’re all manufactured and born into a world of supposed solidarity.
Employees we are introduced to include alpla, Henry (David Burnett), beta, Lenina (Olivia Morgan), Benito (Theo Ogundipe) and Polly (Samantha Pearl), all of whom date and ‘have’ who they want to as erotic love is actively encouraged and features on the curriculum for young children – so it’s all these people have ever known. What becomes clear is how dangerous this new world is, their stimulant ‘Soma’ (I feel it represents alcohol and drugs) is taken with alarming regularity and is their way of seeing life through rose tinted glasses. Dangerous in itself!
Savages live in a reservation, and when Bernard (an alpha who is not ‘happy’) takes a trip to a reservation with Lenina, he comes across Linda (played magnificently by Abigail McKern), an old flame of Thomas the Director, and her son, John (Williams Postlethwaite). Linda had given birth and been left with the savages, this had led her into a life of alcoholism and prostitution. Bernard and Lenina take Linda and John back to civilisation with them, so Linda is able to go on permanent ‘Soma’ holiday (not necessarily as enticing as it sounds) and John enters a world which drives him to despair.
Kudos to the whole cast who were superb as an ensemble, especially during movement sequences. The set is engaging and reflects the text well, the music is inspired and gives a new dimension to the piece.
This is a futuristic play, not only in genre alone and I feel that it has the ability to attract a new audience, into the theatre. The link to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre website is here if you’d like to book tickets for this week : http://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/ and a link to the tour dates plus other information can be found here: http://touringconsortium.co.uk/show/bravenewworld/