Dystopian Lightmares At The Barbican

By Stuart Black Last edited 37 months ago
Dystopian Lightmares At The Barbican ★★★☆☆ 3
Photo by Alex Brenner.
Photo by Alex Brenner.
Photo by Alex Brenner.
Photo by Alex Brenner.
Photo by Alex Brenner.
Photo by Alex Brenner.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s hard to think of anywhere more dystopic than the Kubrickian concrete of the Barbican Centre amid the January perma-dark. But you only have to descend to The Pit, the Brutalist building’s small subterranean theatre, where silent sci-fi Light is playing. Once there, you're plunged into total darkness and then inside the microchip-controlled minds of the fascist cops and rebel citizens who live in a not-too distant and not-too pleasant future.

This acclaimed mime show from Theatre Ad Infinitum is deliberately disorienting, powerfully atmospheric and at times as totalitarian in its grip on the audience as the story's nightmarish government is on its citizen-slaves.

The cyberpunk set-up is perhaps over-familiar (though that may well be down to the fact that we live in increasingly tech-shaped times full of detention, rendition and torture). What’s fresh here is the execution. Five lithe, skilful actors carve out their futuristic world from the blackness on stage using only hand-torches, fluorescent strips and multi-coloured lights. And yet they manage to conjure up mind-bending vistas that echo everything from Metropolis to The Matrix.

The choreography is almost supernaturally precise with a quick change every time the lights go out, creating the effect of a world caught in strobe from which much of the movement seems to be missing. It's exhausting and surely gruelling for the actors — and may well be a bit much for some. But the poise and technique on show is undeniably impressive — especially since the cues are embedded within a pulsing electronic soundtrack and one of the actors is deaf. For physical theatre aficionados and sci-fi fans who want to witness epic scenes and brain invasions reduced right down to their spectral essence, Light is a visual treat.

Light is on at the Barbican Centre until 24 January (before going on tour). Tickets are £18. The London International Mime Festival continues until 31 January.

Last Updated 21 January 2015