REVIEW - Futuristic Minority Report at the Birmingham REP is FX-filled sci-fi at its best - The Redditch Standard

REVIEW - Futuristic Minority Report at the Birmingham REP is FX-filled sci-fi at its best

Redditch Editorial 27th Mar, 2024   0

MINORITY Report is a new adaptation of a short story by 1950s Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick. This one is by David Haig, a brave venture to follow the blockbuster Stephen Spielberg film version. Brave and exciting too and Haig’s vision succeeds on many groundbreaking fronts.

It certainly is an adrenaline fueled trip from curtain up – or should I say ‘boot up’ – as in computer-speak, as this is the newest fusion of merging film, screen devices and good old stagecraft together under the umbrella of entertainment.

As far as the story is concerned, it is basically a good old-fashioned morality plot set in the sort of dystopian future we seem to be disturbingly heading towards. That is if we don’t take action about giving over all blue and white collar labour – and ultimately all decision-making – to AI.

Picture by Marc Brenner. s

Minority Report is set in the year 2050 where neuroscientist Dame Julia Anderton (Jodie McNee) is about to launch the next phase of her pioneering ‘Pre-Crime’ programme. A simple chip in the heads of the populous can predict when someone is going to commit murder, so an elite SWAT squad stops them from carrying it out. That means on one hand a utopian society where murder is history, but on the other where just having homicidal thoughts is a crime. (Most of us writers would not only be out of a job, but first in line for the incarceration camp).

The Dame is thwarted though, when she is herself is accused of being a potential murderess and is forced to embark on an 80-minute whirlwind quest to prove her innocence. (Cleverly the same length of time as the show)

Conceived by Nottingham Playhouse, Hammersmith Lyric and Simon Friend Entertainment, this production has a massive list of technicals involved in the enterprise. They are under the leadership of Production Designer Jon Bausor who gets the second billing after Director Max Webster.

Picture by Marc Brenner. s

You can certainly see why – there’s a constantly changing three-dimensional set incorporating futuristic city landscapes complete with practical police cars, taxis, lifts, overhead penthouses and an underground labyrinth where the rebels hang out.

In addition to video popping up in a myriad of places, there are FX and amazing illusions designed by the Magic Circle magician of the year, Richard Pinner.

Picture by Marc Brenner. s

With all this happening on the canvas, it has to be said that the actors have their work cut out to compete. They do have though, besides the talented Webster a movement and intimacy director Lucy Hind, two fight directors Rachel Brown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown, a dialect coach Salvatore Sorce and a voice coach Barbara Houseman.

The cast is small, just nine players, yet such is the cleverness of the multi-tasking, it seems more like 90.

Nick Fletcher convinces as smooth politician George and Roseanna Franscona cuts the corporate cloth as woman of power Ana.

Jodie McNee works her socks off as Dame Julia going from hero to zero, as she becomes a fugitive. McNee starts off as a sparkler, thenerupts like a volcano and never once falters in delivery.

Picture by Marc Brenner. s

Tanvi Virmani brings temperateness and humour to Julia’s AI companion David – ironic really that it’s the artificial character who is the cuddliest.

I hope ‘Minority Report’ brings in a younger, computer savvy audience, who can be eased in gently to the magic of live theatre where everything only happens in real time and every performance us different.

Picture by Marc Brenner. s

I’ve not seen the film and so in a rare reversal of quest, having seen and enjoyed the play, I shall ask my Alexa on which network I can stream it.

Minority Report runs at the Birmingham Rep until next Saturday, April 6. Click here for times, tickets and more information.


Review by Euan Rose.

Euan Rose Reviews.


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