REVIEW: Brave New World, Royal & Derngate

James Howard, David Burnett and the cast in the futuristic setting. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
James Howard, David Burnett and the cast in the futuristic setting. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

For a while, you would be forgiven for forgetting where you are while watching Brave New World.

Introduced and spoken to as trainees of the new society, the audience is given a virtual tour of their future workplace and the utopian lifestyle.

But is all as it is made out to be?

Aldous Huxley’s critically acclaimed novel challenges the border between the perfect world and dystopia, and director James Dacre and adaptor Dawn King capture this perfectly in this excellent production.

It is fascinating to see just how realistic Huxley’s future vision was – and we must remember this was written in 1931.

Everybody is created from a test tube, sex is commercialised, and psychedelic drug soma is taken like it’s going out of fashion.

But that’s how people are programmed – there is no emotion, no dissent, “everybody belongs to everybody else”.

The stage follows Bernard (Gruffudd Glyn) and Lenina (Olivia Morgan) as they take a trip to the ‘reservation’ – a far more realistic, iron age world where people have families and emotions.

Here they meet John the Savage (William Postlethwaite), who they take back to ‘the other place’.

Just how will he fit in?

Glyn – who some may recognise from Doctor Who – plays an exceptional role as the inbetweener between the two worlds.

Huxley almost lost his sight as a youngster after a rare eye disease, with vision becoming a major theme in his work.

And the stages are out of this world – pardon the pun – with each character having a defining purpose and making the audience draw comparisons between what they are seeing and the world they live in.

The production moves at an exciting pace and, having not read the book beforehand, I was never quite sure what was going to happen next.

It’s a real thought provoker and with the way technology is advancing, makes you really think about what the world will be like for the next generation.

Theatrically, Brave New World is a spectacle on the eyes and the brain and if you get the chance, you must see it.

Brave New World is on tour and is at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton, until Saturday, September 26.