by Stacey Gregg.
20 Clarendon Road WD17 1JZ In rep to 19 October 2013.
1.30pm 17 Oct.
3.30pm 15 Oct.
4pm 12 Oct.
6.30pm 14 Oct.
7pm 18 Oct.
8pm 19 Oct.
Audio-described 12 Oct.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 01923 225671.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 October.
’What is humanity?’ takes an intriguing new turn in strong production.
As Watford’s ‘Ideal World’ proceeds, the overall project is gathering an identity beyond the three new plays involved. Palace Artistic Director Brigid Larmour has assembled a programme, running till 19 October, which, as Stacey Gregg’s Override makes clear along with Gary Owen’s Perfect Match, is an intriguing arts-and-sciences examination of how digital technologies interact with human life – E V Crowe’s Virgin adds a third individual panel.
Gregg goes further than Owen in considering how human ingenuity can affect human existence. And the question is not so one-sided as might appear when young lovers Violet and Mark seek-out a cottage for a return to nature in a future world where scientists and surgeons have been able to implant and replace human tissue with manufactured perfection.
Dangerous enough to have been banned, such operations had become a lifestyle choice alongside cases of medical necessity. Violet’s concealed her strong left arm is human invention, and natural purist Mark’s horrified at the truth.
Yet the worst she’s done is let him carry shopping she could have effortlessly hauled. His ‘natural’ love destroys her; when he uses his authority to override the programme maintaining her arm, it starts degrading.
For all her northern immediacy, love or guilt keeps Violet from outrage, while Mark’s horrified by suddenly peeling prosthetic flesh. There’s more to her manufactured than meets the eye, and as it degrades Mark destroys the woman he loved.
Interstices between early scene are filled with urgent sexual passion, which ends following his action, leaving him bereft. Matti Houghton’s happily dancing Violet shows a patience either super-, or non-, human, while Geoffrey Breton’s Mark feels the effects but fails to come to terms with his responsibility for their predicament.
Love, it seems (and theirs is genuine) can’t always find a way. Once Gregg has established characters and situation, the strong performances in Selina Cartmell’s swift yet considered production, raise questions and hold the attention – though it must be said Violet’s effective disappearance mutes the energy. Still, with no happy cop-out, the play leaves a fascinating trail, involving characters and within society, strewn with significant consequential choices.
Violet: Matti Houghton.
Mark: Geoffrey Breton.
Director: Selina Cartmell.
Designer: Alex Lowde.
Lighting: Colin Grenfell.
Sound/Composer: Isobel Waller-Bridge.
Video: Duncan McLean.