The year is 2091. Paper has not been used for twenty years, and in other ways too, technology has moved on. In this dystopian future, it is common across society to take a pill each night – produced by pharma firm Cognetix – which allows you to “order” any dream. The protagonist is Ian, who dreams of being a superhero and rescuing damsels in distress; all goes well until he meets Bea, who is in the heart of a conspiracy that throws everyone’s pill-taking life into chaos.
The plot unravels alongside Ian’s obsession with his co-worker Janice – who he futilely expects to swoon in his arms just like in his dreams, even though she’s preoccupied with someone else. Ian meets Bea when he picks up a folder she drops in a careless attempt to steal it. As the story develops, we learn why Bea is sneaking around Cognetix, how Ian helps her, and what he gives up in the process.
Tremolo Theatre deliver a powerful show, through clever use of light and sound and minimal but effective props. Modern technology is credibly fast-forwarded, with people using phones on the skins of their arms and paying for things by waving their hands at the till. People have never seen paper or CDs; even hard drives are now beyond memory. And in a further clever echo of contemporary technology, dreams can now be uploaded to the network, for others to “like” and comment on.
James Kent and Maisie Newman build compelling characters for Ian and Bea, making the plot point of a dream-social-network very believable (and scary). But some other aspects of futuristic technology seem incongruous, and could have been better thought-through. Will we really use fingerprint recognition in 2091? Most places have moved on from fingerprints already. Will be still be working in offices? Still using elevators? The detailed world-building demanded more attention – and the humorous elements about cake, I thought, were an unnecessary distraction from what was a serious plotline.
In spite of these minor flaws, I enjoyed being taken on a journey: reflecting on where technology is leading us, and what sacrifices are we consciously or unconsciously making along the way. I left the theatre wondering how many of us will fall through the cracks of a society that expects us to comply – even if it serves us all our dreams.