Digitopia @ The Lilian Baylis Studio (Sadler’s Wells) Review

It often feels like we are headed towards a technology-centric world. How many items around you can you think of that are technological? When thinking of the theatre as an activity, it serves multiple purposes, whether it be for escapism, addressing a range of societal issues or for pure entertainment. How often however do we watch a piece purely for the visual aesthetics, as well as entertainment? The Tom Dale Company and MOKO Dance‘s Digitopia revels in this and triumphs.

Digitopia1

In a world dominated by rigid triangular landmarks, how can creativity persevere? Digitopia is a mark of the 21st Century, a beacon as to what theatre could look like in decades to come. Technology is brought to fore as a performer, and this is very exciting. Maria Olga Palliani and Joshua Smith bridge the gap between our world, and the ever evolving technological world to contribute a very important piece of theatre not only to a young audience, but to all demographics.

Asymmetric pyramids glide seamlessly to make way for visual theatrics that lay ahead. Palliani’s sequence with an electronic stick man is aesthetically astounding. Smith realises the character of the stick man, breathing life into an initial animation, to a 3D walking, dancing, living being. Tom Dale‘s choreography is a thing of genius as Palliani and Smith meticulously perform footwork that mimics that of being on a moving conveyor belt, timed to perfection with the moving projections onstage.

I’m reminded of the aesthetics of the film ‘Tron’, a film that broke boundaries in the 80s for it’s ground breaking use of special effects. Digitopia leaves me with snapshots that I’ll remember for years to come. The Lilian Baylis Studio becomes a lab, a means to experiment with this exciting form of storytelling. At one point, the stage is transformed into a labyrinth thanks to Barret Hodgson and Noel Murphy‘s expertise in digital and interactive media artistry. A playful game of cat and mouse ensues as Pallani attempts to meet her creation, the stick man, however always misses him. This sequence leaves the audience in awe, it’s comical yet haunting.

Richard Statham‘s lighting design is a thing of beauty. The heart of Palliani and Smith’s musical sequence creating a mellow soundscape by running their hands through a series of lights harks back to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounter of the Third Kind and Tom Hank’s iconic piano scene in Big. It’s nostalgic, yet futuristic simultaneously.

There are countless moments in this show that I think are inspired. This is an exciting step for theatre making and with the dawn of 3D printers, Bitcoin, video calling… what will the theatre experience be like in a decade? 2 decades? 5 decades? 4/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Digitopia was shown at the Lilian Baylis Studio from Friday 25th until Saturday 26th March. For more information on MOKO Dance, visit here…

For more information on the Tom Dale Company, visit here…

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