The kind of show that is impossible to do justice to in a written review, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World at Battersea Arts Centre is probably one of my favourites of the year so far
“Why is this thing happening this way?”
An exploration of ex-pat existence between the global north and the global south. A podcast about the murder of an Iranian pop star. A musing on the power Wikipedia has over the way we claim to know things. Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is all of these things and none of these things and made me think in a theatre in a way that I haven’t done for a hot minute and I loved it.
Approaching the idea of a show from leftfield, it is a thrilling artistic endeavour that explores so much, it revels in the various challenges that it poses its audience, even as it dances away from them to move onto the next, while our head is still spinning. Wikipedia as a postcolonialist structure. Who is the Iranian Tom Jones? How to deal with authoritarian abuse of power in your own family. What Persian nougat tastes like…
It’s a lot, to be sure. But in the hands of Javaad Alipoor, our narrator of sorts who co-wrote the show with Chris Thorpe, there’s real care to carry the audience with him, even as he disappears for stretches of the evening. Ben Brockman’s ingenious set design reveals itself a tech-forward dolls house of surprises, allowing the multiple strands of the show co-exist, sometimes overlap and utterly enthral.
Composer Me-Lee Hay’s onstage musical contributions add further depth, particularly as performer Raam Emani gets involved, making the leap from screen to stage as part of his fascinating ongoing journey between nations and notoriety. Limbic Cinema’s video work is exceptionally done as it channels information overload. And as Alipoor’s Bradford-born charms act as both anchor and agitator, the speed and manner and convicton with which he’s made you deeply question whether you actually know anything that you’ve gleaned from Wikipedia is the kind of revelation that blows my tiny mind.
As thoughts turn to end-of-year lists, Things Hidden has all the makings of a late-surging contender for the top. I urge you to book now.