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In the Beginning was the End

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Somerset House

Inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci, The Book of Revelation and the world of Mechatronics the critically acclaimed dreamthinkspeak have taken over rarely seen areas of Somerset House for their most recent production, In The Beginning was the End.

Known for their promenade plays and wacky ideas which leave the audience wondering what on earth they just saw and how it is to be interpreted, dreamthinkspeak challenge the audience's perceptions and takes them on a journey of confusing and sometimes disorientating action. Entering with a group of people, you soon find that you’ve broken off from the crowd and are unsure as to whether you have strayed into the wrong areas. Are you encountering something that the others haven’t? Are you being let in on secrets that other participants aren’t aware of?

Faced with, what appear to be, mad scientists speaking a plethora of languages, old and defunct technology and a spoof open evening presenting the advances of stress relieving products they have created, this production continues the questions posed by Leonardo Da Vinci. Are man made items the beginning of a better world or is it the beginning of the end; a world which will eventually implode on itself when the technology around us fails? In a time when we are so comfortable with technology, constantly seeking “better” and more advanced machines, this production appears to be encouraging you to question whether this is a good thing and where does it end?

Feeling like Sherlock Holmes looking for, what transpires to be, non existent clues to what is going on and trying to piece together the things you see, you’re never quite sure whether you are being mislead or whether the things you are encountering are important to what is going on. Without giving anything away, each group will happen upon something slightly different and depending on the order they discover the rooms, the items that they look at or the bits of foreign languages they can decipher, this will alter the experience they have and what they take away from it.

I am not sure if what I have read into it is “correct” or whether I have got completely the wrong idea but I think that is the point. Some people will “get it” completely and leave questioning the world around them but I am sure, based on the confused faces of some of those around me, that some people just won’t.

After trying to pull it apart following the performance and further conversation the following day trying to understand what the artistic director, Tristan Sharpes was trying to get at with his most recent installation, my companion summed it up rather eloquently. “You will be faced with mad multi-lingual scientists who create citron-powered robots who malfunction, get naked and commit suicide. Conclusion: man needs to have more business meetings in fish tanks.” That’s pretty much all you need to know about this play – if none of that appeals, don’t go and see it. But if you are intrigued and wish to go on a journey of discovery about the possible future of advancing technology, get your tickets now.

- Rhiannon Lawson


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