We were bred for earth, on earth, by earth. Now it’s time to leave our host…
Imagine a world where there is no disease. Where there is no pain. Where there are no flaws. Where we can literally pick and choose the best elements in the evolutionary journey and eradicate the worst. Would you be on board, even if it means you might lose the very humanity that allowed you the capacity to be ‘superhuman’ in the first place? What is the cost of progress?
Walking into the Blueroom Theatre for Blueprint, the audience is presented with a Rorschach Test seating plan – the rows line the room, hugging the walls, creating an arena-style stage. There is nowhere to hide in a configuration like this – the audience is made palpably aware of their own presence and their own bodies almost as on show as the performers. Being aware of our flawed bodies (and being presented with those directly opposite us) heightens the physical perfection of the performers. Alex (Jessica Russell), Jayne (Phoebe Sullivan), and Lewis (Sean Crofton) are
pioneers (read: guinea pigs) in a new program designed to enhance the human body through genetic/DNA manipulation. They are picked because they are so ordinary, yet present themselves as confident, attractive, and mentally gifted individuals.
Standing in three beams of light, not dissimilar to images of astronauts in suspended animation, or Star Trek beams, the three actors exude physical prowess. Costumed in active wear, their every move accentuates their muscles and sinews moving in a ballet of human biology and artistic expression. Phoebe Pilcher‘s lighting design cleverly renders a black, empty stage and conjures space and its isolation, the starkness of daily life, and the over-saturation of a sterile laboratory. Combined with a gritty and pulsing soundtrack by Rebecca Riggs-Bennett the story is enhanced by these world-building qualities.
It’s not the most innovative script, the language seems clunky at times and the pseudo-scientific theories are presented in a condescending manner. It also seems difficult to believe that the ‘guinea pigs’ would be the ones explaining the theory – it might have benefited from a voice-over or something similar, as the words seem incongruous to the characters’ personalities and knowledge bases. Alex contradicts herself by taking on the role of ‘expert’ only to later tell Lewis that she doesn’t really think about it too much and that he should just go with the flow and leave the science and ethics to the people in charge. I also take issue with a few Americanisms that slip through but over all the dialogue is snappy and at times, hilarious. There are some genuinely funny moments, especially with Jayne’s particular ways, and Alex is fiercely feminist in her convictions.
The physical movements make up for the shortcomings in the script – surging and whirling each other about as though buffeted by the ocean, demonstrating the sheer strength of the body as a metaphor for the strength of the mind, tensing up at the prospect of being hit despite knowing that it can’t hurt. As I said, Blueprint isn’t the most ground-breaking piece – it can be trite at times, and the themes are nothing new – yet, character dynamics, the use of memory as an indicator of humanity, the fear of perfection, and the sheer weight of the question ‘what if?’ make it a very interesting work of theatre.
When: 6th – 24th June 2017 | 7pm
Where: The Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge
Info: Tickets $18 – $28 |Duration 60 minutes | Suitable 15+