★★★★★ The Future at Battersea Arts Centre
One of our favourite, out-there theatre troupe’s return with possibly their best show – a blistering hour of subtle satire, thumping tunes, cheeky subversion and philosophical musings.
Ever since we caught their incredible Operation Greenfield at Soho Theatre back in 2011, Little Bulb have been one of our must-see theatre companies. Never knowingly easily pigeonholed, shows such as Squally Showers, Orpheus and Extravaganza Macabre have explored the 1980s through dance, Greek myth via 1930’s Paris, and Victorian London panto-style.
This latest production, The Future, shifts focus once again, satirising the smug TED talk style to unpack the risks and opportunities associated with artificial intelligence. Channeling philosopher Nick Bostrom and physicist David Deutsch among others, the cast (Shamira Turner, Eugénie Pastor, Dominic Conway and Clare Beresford) energetically and winningly take a whistlestop tour through some pretty nifty intellectual thinking around next generation technology, seamlessly incorporating bombastic tunes, quirky choreography and a perpetual wry eye.
There’s a danger with this kind of theatre, that it will either come across as dumbed-down frivolity or a high-minded fun vacuum. But frankly, there was never any danger that Little Bulb would fall in to either trap.
The Future is intellectually stimulating throughout, giving each idea and concept room to wriggle its way into the back of your mind for later consideration, whilst also an energetic joy-ride of enthusiasm, which leaves the audience wanting more after what feels like a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 60 minutes.
Special mention must go to the spot-on TED Talk pastiche from Clare Beresford, which instantly sets the tone – but it feels unfair to pick out one performer, as Little Bulb really are a collective, and there’s something intangibly heartwarming about watching them engage with and inspire each other’s performances.