Review: Free Your Mind at Factory International ★★★★★

Review: Free Your Mind at Factory International ★★★★★

An outstanding, visually stunning reimagining of The Matrix, from director Danny Boyle.

Free Your Mind | 13 October – 5 November 2023 | Factory International, Manchester

This must-see performance throws you into an alternate reality as soon as you enter Factory International. Stewards donning trench coats, a white rabbit bouncing around the industrial staircases, territorial commands announced over the foyer speakers. You are allocated a red or blue wristband, and the intrigue of The Matrix begins. Which choice will you make?

The show itself is visually spectacular, directed by no other than Manchester’s Danny Boyle. The performance has echoes of Boyle’s 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony combining contemporary dance with breath-taking set design and digital art. The physical theatre numbers lead you through alternate realities, a constant battle between humans and the machines. Each dance is executed with acute precision – you feel as if you have witnessed a ceremonial march with the sheer number of performers and synchronisation involved. It truly is a spectacular sight to behold.

The performance throughout has nods to Manchester’s incredible scientific and mathematical discoveries, from Alan Turing to Manchester’s industrial past. It also touches on our own lives with dystopian Amazon housewives, along with our extremely reliant addiction to tech. This retelling of The Matrix is not only a homage to the epic sci-fi film but it’s also giving the audience a glimpse into their own Matrix-esque futures.

The second act is like no other performance, as you are beckoned into a different space within Factory International. The building itself takes on a disorientating feel, as you are invited to watch a spectacular audio and visual catwalk performance, where you have front row seats. Gareth Pugh’s costume design and attention to detail is remarkable, and this all aids in sucking you into this mind-altering reality.

Overall, this is a performance not to be missed, with visually stunning sets, costumes and choreography. It’s truly exciting to see Manchester’s potential for theatre that could trump some of London’s offerings. This performance could be the future of theatre and the future of humanity.