A review by Laura Anderson for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

Evcol Entertainment in association with the Jack Studio Theatre presents:

 

Project Snowflake

 


Photo by Michael Brydon

 

Written and Directed by Sasha C. Damjanovski

 

 

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

 

 

5 -23 April 2011



 

To those who have seen Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or read George Orwell’s 1984, the plot of Project Snowflake will be rather familiar. It’s 2060 and a world where people have personal CCTV cameras watching them, workers all have their productivity measured in percent and you need a license to have a baby or even to beg.Martha (Laura Evelyn) and Jeremy (Simon Desborough) are scientists at the Creativity Institute. They’re working on a device to record people’s dreams. However the government insists it should only record pleasant dreams – like dreams of being a snowflake.

It grips you at the start. The audience are greeted by a recurring voiceover of “Meet your targets, keep your job” to set the scene. The opening set, designed by David Shields is simple, with white chairs and desks. It doesn’t look too dissimilar to offices in the here and now, except for the black and yellow hazard warning tape plastered on the floor and walls that creates a sense of unease. Martha and Jeremy are sitting side by side; Martha reads out case files while Jeremy types them up. They make little sense to us as they are jam packed with pseudo legal speak and lengthy ID numbers. We experience a portion of their mind numbing boredom, so it’s joyful to see them show sparks of flirtation or anger while never deviating from the “script” of their case files. However every time their minds drift away from work for a moment, a piercing siren and green light goes off.

After this intriguing start the play continues with many example of crippling bureaucracy and ridiculous political correctness. Usually they just provoke a wry smile. Sometimes these moments are laugh out loud, like when two women executives (Liz Jadav and Imogen Vinden-North) preface each personal and stinging barb in an increasingly heated argument with “the following statement is a personal view and may not represent the views of my department or the government as a whole”. The story would benefit from more stand-out humour like this.

Evelyn and Desborough portray Martha and Jeremy with wit and empathy, managing to say a lot through body language and tone of voice. However Jonathan Leinmuller steals the stage as John Barr, the flamboyant and ever so slightly sleazy marketing guy. His over the top performance makes him possibly the funniest thing in this play.
David Shields manages to create a few different office settings with his limited props. The set changes made by dimly lit cast members languorously dancing the pieces into place reinforces both the dreamlike quality of the production and the idea that everything is a performance, as does Nikola Kodjabashia’s whimsical and carnivalsesque music. The uniform-like all black costumes by Shields are also fit the theme.

Though there are many enjoyable elements to this play, your enjoyment may be marred by the muddled messages. Some parts make you think that the “system” is all in their heads, but others don’t. The system is being criticised, but no viable alternative is given. The people of 2060 are supposed to be repressed and unable to express emotion, yet two workers engage in a very personal and angry slanging match.

Project Snowflake has been billed as “a highly confidential comedy of love”, and although it is highly watchable and produces a few chuckles, you may not engage with the characters enough to care if the leads get together or not. Though Damjanovski’s direction makes their love clear, we know so little about them and their feelings. The potential shown in the opening scene is never properly explored and their relationship lacks depth. Their brainwave to “stuff the system” comes out of nowhere and the “rebellion” which is supposed to bind them appears to be half-hearted.

Without giving anything away, the ending seems inconclusive and unsatisfying and the expected twist in the tale never materialises. As a controlling dystopian universe rife with a lack of privacy and individuality is a well explored theme, there needs to be more originality and a stronger message to make Project Snowflake stand out from the crowd.

 

Box Office: 0844 8472454
://www.brockleyjack.co.uk
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Rd, London, SE4 2DH
Tuesday-Saturday at 7:45pm £12 concessions £10



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