In the Millennial Dome

Sat 5th – Fri 11th August 2017

reviews

Kathryn Tann

at 09:44 on 7th Aug 2017

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Refreshingly, ‘Inside the Millennial Dome’ is a play about the younger generation which isn’t damning. It moves through all the well-known stereotypes; the instagrammer, the gym goer, the corporate climber, without the whining or hypocrisy we feared we may have to witness.

As a part of the free fringe, it would be unfair to criticise this show for its technical simplicity. In fact, I would like to congratulate the production for its innovation whilst on an evidently microscopic budget. The handmade signs were cleverly attached to coat hangers and could be quickly changed whenever necessary, whilst the simple tokens of costume made it nice and easy to follow the actors switching characters. Alex Ferguson should particularly be mentioned for his brilliant ability to switch characters, sometimes playing three or four in a single scene.

This constant chopping and changing, however, rendered the multiple imaginary story lines difficult to follow (thank goodness for those coat hangers). It occasionally felt like we spent more time watching them frantically switch scenes than we did watching them act. It also meant that by about half way through the constant clicking of fingers which signified each scene change became quite exasperating.

Geraint Williams had a slightly easier job, having only one character to focus on, and this may be the reason why his acting was generally the slightly stronger of the two. One particular moment which sticks in my mind is the monologue as he waits in the taxi alone. I felt the character of George had few chances to speak to the audience in the way that his counterpart could through poetry, but this was a nice glimpse of something more poignant.

The not-so-serious (but perhaps still poignant) themes of the play made up the most part, and were at times very amusing. The brilliant social media stereotyping caught my eye, with golden lines like “It doesn’t count unless you…” as the pair proceed to film a post-workout video. The funniest scene, however, was the imaginary psychologist consultation, which involved a parent being handed a mental health menu so that he may choose issues for his child. It was a genuinely original idea which also made an important point, and originality is far from easy under a topic that is currently so popular in theatre.

The ending of the piece was a little awkward, but it did its job in allowing all of what we’d seen to be laid out unbiasedly for our consideration. ‘In the Millennial Dome’ is by no means revolutionary, but its truthfulness, accuracy and its comedy make for a play which, though humble, is worth giving a chance.

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Noah Lachs

at 10:44 on 7th Aug 2017

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Tim (Alex Ferguson), a “professional” poet, bumps into old friend, and floundering co-millennial, George (Geraint Williams), in a bar. Their catch-up becomes an exploration—through spoken-word and sketches—of the hypothetical directions George’s life could take. Plays with themes similar to Millenial Dome (there are a fair few at the Fringe) easily fall into the trap of becoming millennial moan or millennial scorn. The former features millenials that feel ever so sorry for themselves (possibly due to avocado shortages) and wish to tell you all about it; the latter involves older folks that have forgotten how easy it was for them to get on the property ladder, and are probably bitter about their impotence. Millenial Dome is an artful intersection between these extremes. It gently mocks the vegan-craft ales-Corbyn-Insta-gym generation, whilst delving into the implications of struggling to answer the question “So what do you do?”

Indeed, some of the scenarios lampooning millennial culture are so accurate they could easily be real. One of these is George’s bright idea to establish a mac and cheese restaurant for men with beards called “Cheesy Beard”. There is quite literally a pizza restaurant in Oxford called “Beard”, and a pie shop in Edinburgh that serves mac and cheese-filled pies. A convergence of these respective enterprises is highly feasible. As one might expect, these hotspots are predominantly frequented by the kind of people that look at their phones instead of each other — a social phenomenon the play exploits. In its less light-hearted moments, the play provides a cynical take on the various routes open to George: the immoral and lonely corporate one, the stultifying settle down with a wife one, the fruitless flee to Australia one etc. The quality of the spoken word and sketches that present these is varied, but the originality and ambition of the presentation makes up for some fumbled lines of poetry, and amateurish acting.

Yet, there is something endearing about the simplicity of the production. The theatre is like an NHS waiting room, and the chairs recall primary school classes. There are basic onstage costume swaps, placards denoting each setting, and the snap of Tim’s fingers signifies scene changes. The clicking grew a little irritating but one could not help but marvel at the consistently clean and loud snap Alex Ferguson is able to produce. What are his hands made of? Ultimately, this intimacy and informality sit well with the content of the play; it is a play happy to poke fun in all directions. However, this does not make its message trivial, as becomes clear in the play’s downturn ending, being a millennial can be lonely and sad. Millenial Dome is not afraid to say this.

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