A comment on big issues that dares to wear a smile on its face, Futurology: A Global Review is characterised by both an at-times-awkward linking of its flimsy central themes and a few often-spectacular set-pieces. A co-production of Scottish theatre company Suspect Culture, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Brighton Festival, it presents itself as a fictional conference on the subject of global warming that somehow doubles as a manic cabaret.
Dramatists David Greig and Dan Rebellato have chosen the world’s smallest nations to be represented here, an idea that initially smacks of an excuse for being wilfully obscure. The eventual focal point of the show, however, is the delegate from the semi- fictitious Sandwich Islands, a confused and out-of-her- depth woman played by the physically distinctive Angela de Castro. One of the world’s foremost female clowns, she is hilarious and bumblingly lovable, a real embodiment of the plucky little guy her supposed country represents on stage.
With a live cabaret soundtrack led by the composer and arranger Nick Powell, these also-ran nations present themselves, one by one, as if auditioning for a TV show. Trinidad and Tobago, for example, is a ropy, end-of- pier ventriloquist; the half- time entertainment is a hypnotist named Mister Aluminium; the smug and civil-war-threatened Mayor of Bauxite City (where the conference is being held) is played with verve by Grant Smeaton as a garish comic.
Where many of these set- pieces lead us is hard to ascertain, but the director Graham Eatough maintains a consistent level of mayhem, interspersed with bouts of sober eco-political commentary. Unfortunately this tends to slip into the background amid the flash and bang of action, and the set-pieces are confusing without a strong narrative to link them. Still, with wonderful turns by the Latin dancer Maria Victoria Di Pace and the mesmerising contortionist Raphaelle Boitel, Futurology at least offers a visual feast in place of real food for thought.
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