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Override (Watford)

Stacey Gregg's new play at the Watford Palace Theatre imagines a world where everything is controlled by technology.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Matti Houghton & Geoffrey Breton
© Manuel Harlan

It's almost as though the Julia-Winston relationship in 1984 had taken on a 21st century life of its own. Stacey Gregg's Override posits a world where the norm is that babies are routinely created with the mental and physical characteristics of their parents' choice. It's not just hips and knees which can be replaced, hearts, livers and kidneys transplanted or prothetic limbs created – any bodily art which is malfunctioning can be renewed. All this happens, of course, through the wonders of technology.

Mark prefers the old, natural way and has persuaded Violet to agree that their child shall have nothing artificial in its makeup. But, in an existence where everything is digitally controlled, going back to basics can have its consequences. You override the system at your peril.

Gregg's dialogue carries conviction, though at the second preview performance I attended Matti Houghton's lines were muffled by the bucolic accent she favours. Director Selina Cartmell is well-served by Colin Grenfell's brilliant lighting effects, especially for the last scene.

Geoffrey Breton's Mark carries conviction as the man who means well but ultimately cannot control either the forces of nature herself or what one of the projected captions describes as techgnosis. A brave new world perhaps, but one peopled with strange creatures.