EFR - Reviews of Future Honey

Future Honey

Fri 7th – Fri 21st August 2015

reviews

Liam Marchant

at 23:56 on 8th Aug 2015

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It brings us closer together whilst erecting an insurmountable barrier between us; it provides access to knowledge but distracts us from broader philosophical truths; it allows us to define and fashion our own identities though alienates us from our very nature. The Internet has illuminated the world since its inception, but it has a dark side as well.

These are the fundamental contradictions and paradoxes of life in the digital age that Future Honey attempts to explore; it raises questions so complex and ambiguous that the performance stumbles over itself in contriving to offer answers.

The piece is centred on three housemates, each appearing in costumes fit for a Lady GaGa stunt double. There is Natalie (Rachel Berger), a self-absorbed lifestyle blogger, Morgan (Brittany Costa), a sulking hipster, and Annie (Samantha Sheppard), an ever-empathetic research assistant.

The first twenty minutes involve a monotonous representation of each character’s life slurping up the Kool Aid of life online; each woman unhealthily dependent on LuLuX7, a portable technology which allows individuals to sublimate their deepest fears and insecurities.

Despite society’s chronic reliance on software soma bearing so much potential as an immediate and urgent issue, the cast’s overblown choreography just seems a bit silly. They shimmy around the stage with huge repetitive steps, occasionally one of them making a beeping noise. Their movement is accompanied by an upbeat tune which makes the sequence somewhat reminiscent of Benny Hill.

After their precious technology is confiscated, the housemates are entered into a game show in which they can reclaim LuLuX7 as their prize. Some incredibly moving moments follow as each character is forced to face their repressed memories and emotions. Morgan poignantly struggles with her father’s death from cancer, stung with the guilt of having not attended his funeral.

Unfortunately, the tenderness of these scenes is effaced by the preface of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s floating head appearing as a deity to offer the characters advice; a ridiculous apparition, totally unfitting for the imminent introspection. Further irreverence unfurls as Natalie and Morgan metamorphose in to mincing personifications of the dichotomy laid before humanity; ‘knowledge and innovation’ or ‘a communitarian connection to the earth’.

Any truly insightful exchanges made between the characters are rubbished by these seemingly inebriated embodiments of ‘progress’ and ‘conservatism’ – the pair seem more like Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous than representations of civilisation’s fate.

Future Honey is a show which is grounded in a golden thematic bedrock; an underpinning sullied by both a poorly-constructed plot and disappointing performances. What makes this all the more frustrating is the potential that the show and cast clearly possess but refuse to realise.

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Laurie Atkinson

at 01:10 on 9th Aug 2015

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The Pack's Fringe debut, Future Honey, is dystopian physical theatre that contemplates, yet doesn't quite convince. Brooklyn trio Samantha Sheppard, Rachel Berger and Brittany Costa have created a show that grasps towards a brave new world, but which leaves its audience with little solid ground to hold on to.

The formula is nothing new. Natalie (Berger), Morgan (Costa) and Annie (Sheppard) exist in a not-too-distant future, dependent on a master device that threatens to irretrievably sterilize human experience. A familiar conceit, and one that lends itself to the surreal introspection for which black box venues are so suited. The Pack's garish costume and repeated mimes are initially used to good effect to establish an on-stage routine in which each character has individual personality, but is uniformly confined to cyclical prole-dom. The real problems begin when the cosy dystopian trope breaks down, and The Pack are forced to come face to face with originality in all its terrifying newness.

The future is always in danger of sounding a little forced. Flitting from the giant philosophising head of Neil deGrasse Tyson to a Takeshi's Castle style game show with the fate of humanity as its first prize, Future Honey's eccentricities are in danger of appearing like randomness for the sake of randomness.

The write-up promises black humour, but the show draws few laughs. It is difficult in moments such as the Carroll-esque picnic scene to decide if the effect is closer to subtle parody or confused semi-hysteria, and if the bemused watcher should admire, or cringe.

At times it seems that The Pack themselves suspect that their audience may have got lost down a rabbit hole. All too frequent as the show progresses are Natalie's straight decoding of its confusing imagery - an entirely inappropriate device within the precepts of physical theatre, and the result of a script that could benefit from a streamlining of its symbolism.

The issues behind Future Honey seem familiar because they are pressing. The discourse seems hackneyed because it is being uttered across the globe with an increasing sense of panic. But surely, the "creative problem solving" advocated by Natalie is as much a platitude as if it were spoken by Siri's tin-can voice. I suspect that in future productions The Pack will have plenty more to show, but this year at the Fringe they are rather too prone to telling.

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