Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Wednesday 23rd October, 2013
A string of coloured light bulbs festoons the performance area. A man and a woman step onto a pallet. They take it in turns to describe alternative versions of the future, contradicting each other for the most part, but sometimes complementing what the other has said. In the future we will have personal jet packs. In the future we will eat pills for meals. All of those ideas are here but also many, many more inventive and original ones. Visions of societies, dystopian, utopian, totalitarian, libertarian, every- which-way-ian, are evoked for our consideration.
And that’s it. Nothing happens. This is not a play but a discourse – and a very entertaining one it turns out to be. Amusing, interesting, thought-provoking and imagination-tickling, the ideas they predict are of course reflections of how we live now. Some ideas are extrapolations, logical extensions of situations or policies of our time. Other moments directly address societal or global issues. In the future, they will look back to this time and say it was a golden time. Or it was the boring bit. Or they will say ‘How could they tolerate this? How could they let it happen?’
The ideas come thick and fast. Subtly the lighting changes. The construction of the piece eventually reveals itself. We are focussing in on a bleak assessment of human existence, of the impermanence of civilisations, and the transience of life itself.
For just over an hour, you sit there in turns delighted, bemused, horrified and chilled by the futures sketched out for us. The performers are engaging even though they never move from their shared pallet and keep gestures and gesticulations to a minimum. Frankly, I could have listened to them for much longer.
Alas, I can’t put names to them. Each performance, the programme reveals, is delivered by any two of five members of the company, who devised the piece between them. Directed by Tim Etchells, Tomorrow’s Parties is another example of why Forced Entertainment is an entertaining force to be reckoned with.