Review - Brave New World at Royal and Derngate, Northampton

Brave New World
Brave New World

Many times you hear a description of a drama as hard hitting and the cap certainly fits this dystopic science-fiction play.

Welcome to the future, where a genetically engineered class system has finally brought order and stability to the world. This Brave New World has no family, religion or war. Lust and pleasure have replaced love and art.

People are safe, healthy and not afraid of death. They get what they want, and they never want what they can’t have. Everyone is happy now.

When this stability is threatened, one young woman learns the pain of love and one young man gives in to the love of pain.

One of the biggest challenges in putting a science fiction show on the stage is creating a whole world and it is probably the one that puts a lot of ambitious production teams off taking on the genre.

It is to the eternal credit that the world that is created is incredibly convincing. The production including the sets and the costumes, right down to the choreography and the movements that all of the characters take it is especially good.

This world though does need to be filled by actors and all of them are uniformly excellent. It feels harsh to pick out one but William Postlethwaite’s John arguably goes on the scariest journey of the lot and I am sure he is likely to have a career as successful as his father Pete.

Once the world, which is put together fantastically, is depicted, it then comes down to the audience member whether they liked it. And personally I was uncomfortable with the world that was created.

The sentence erotic play for children, while in Huxley’s text, hits the ear rather uncomfortably and is somewhat difficult to distance yourself from. Having said that, much of the reason I felt so uncomfortable with the world that is depicted in this show is because it very easily reflects the world we live in at the moment. Particularly in the arenas of sexual promiscuity and drug taking. Not bad for a writer who was predicting the future writing in the 30s.

My other criticism for the show probably comes that the set up is so incredibly detailed that it does take a long time to get to the story. But again, this is probably a personal feeling as I enjoy a story more than exploring a world.

I feel this is a show that some people will absolutely adore and others will come away less than impressed. Regardless of your opinion, it is the type of show that will certainly get you thinking afterwards.

But there are things to admire in the piece and the overall production is incredibly brave and a startlingly new piece. The Royal and Derngate should be applauded for putting this on even if the world will not be to everyone’s taste.

Brave New World can be seen until Saturday September 26. For tickets to the show, call 01604 624811 or visit