Thursday, 18 October 2018

Possible tomorrow’s world is a wake-up call for today’s

IN a small, dark studio at South Hill Park, The Lamellar Project aimed high to create

IN a small, dark studio at South Hill Park, The Lamellar Project aimed high to create an illusion on an epic scale, harnessing the audience’s imagination, despite the limitations of this being essentially a two-hander with a sparse, singular stage set.

Billed as a “transatlantic thriller”, the action and exposition takes place in the exchanges between scientist spouses, UK-based Michael (Gideon Turner) and Carys (Emma Gibson), who is based in Philadelphia, where she works for powerful global corporation I-Genis on a mysterious venture called the Lamellar Project.

They have a son, Ethan, who for now is in the UK. It is the aftermath of the sixth great extinction and various species are still disappearing at an alarming rate.

Reptiles, amphibians, mammals and more are being wiped out. In a cinematic way which set us viewers on edge, this information was presented via a projection on to a perforated screen, which also doubled as the invisible wall through which we could see into Michael’s science lab.

Michael and Carys converse by video link and gradually more background detail is revealed. The decision for Carys to head to the States turns out to be something of a compromise, and Michael suspects that her boss, Leyland, isn’t the superhero she makes him out to be.

Having started with the eerie premise of a timeline of disintegrating fauna, the production then spliced in footage of Carys describing incredible events taking place in nature, each worrisome in themselves, with unheard of disruptions to the food chain.

As it becomes apparent that I-Genis itself seems to have taken a fancy to tinkering with the intricate and delicately balanced global ecosystem, Michael makes his feelings clear — that scientists should not play god.

Carys on the other hand is a devotee, and when Michael chastises her for hiding her unusual case of heterochromia iridum, or different-coloured eyes, behind contact lenses, we begin to get an idea of her personal philosophy and policies on genetically modifying crops and critters.

The tension mounts, as Ethan has apparently become a guerrilla gardener and protester, while Michael starts to hear warplanes, wolves and birds of prey.

As he struggles with the changes in the immediate world outside his science lab, Carys seems to have her hand in a much grander plan.

This futuristic production succeeded in providing a scary glimpse into a dystopian world ahead, using simple but clever techniques. It certainly gave the humble but beautiful butterfly a whole new persona.

While I’m not sure it was one for my lab technician  in-laws, it was certainly a wake-up call when it comes to the welfare of the wildlife population of this planet.

The Lamellar Project is playing at London’s Arcola Theatre from August 9 to 13.

If your interest has been piqued, you can read more at

Review: Natalie Aldred

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