TV Review: Humans Series 1

“You’re just a stupid machine aren’t you”

I wasn’t going to write Humans up but I’ve spoken so enthusiastically about it with several people since I watched the whole thing in three days and so thought I’d better recommend it even further. If there’s any justice in the world, Gemma Chan will win all sorts of awards for her performance as Anita (later Mia), the Synth or human-like android that has become the must-have accessory for domestic service in this parallel present-day universe. 

Anita is bought by the Hawkins family who soon start to twig that something isn’t right in the way she is behaving and as Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley’s drama continues over its 8 episodes, we come to see that the lines between human and machine have been considerably blurred by technological advancement and its potential to be exploited identified as a key priority for the nefarious powers-that-be.

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Review: A Farewell To Arms, The Old Market Brighton

“Reading makes the text habitable, like a rented apartment”

Combining theatre and film with text and technology, Imitating the Dog’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel A Farewell To Arms is an adventurous trek into multimedia storytelling. Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks’ direction sees the leads filmed live but separately, the footage combined into a single scene on large screens all around; Simon Wainwright’s video design sees pages of Hemingway’s book projected onto walls as the words deconstruct and dissolve around the actors; the adaptation foregrounds the epic love story between US ambulance driver Frederic Henry and British Catherine Barkley play out against the final year of the First World War, but it also sees the company commenting on and questioning the action even as they’re acting it out.

Furthermore for this performance (which I only later discovered was captioned as opposed to them being an integral part of the design) were the subtitles, adding in an extra layer to the potent mixture as another iteration of Hemingway’s narrative voice. The resulting interplay between the various media added a most fascinating texture – the text a constant reminder of its novel form, the minor variations uttered by the performers an indication of the artificiality of said context, and the live video slipping in and out of sync heightening the theatricality, becoming something more than just a simple replication of what is occurring but an interpretation of it, an alternative version even. The post-show discussion revealed a fair few people disgruntled by the time lag but for me it niggled with interest. Continue reading “Review: A Farewell To Arms, The Old Market Brighton”