Out of This World

May 24 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆    Thrilling spectacle

Festival Theatre: Tue 22 – Wed 23 May 2017
Review by Lucy Evans

Visually stunning yet lacking in substance, Out of This World at the Festival Theatre is an exhilarating fusion of theatre and film that doesn’t quite deliver.

In V-TOL’s latest production, Mark Murphy brings the thrill of his Glasgow Commonwealth Games closing ceremony to the stage, immersing the audience in a mix of aerial choreography and projection.

Sarah Swire. Photo Jane Hobson

However, with theatrical moments crafted purely for their visual effect, the dialogue lacks substance and the plot can feel sluggish – especially as this is a medical drama, a genre well-known for its plot twists and accelerated pace.

The show opens to a flurry of hospital jargon, on a stage punctuated by suspended blood bags and waiting-room chairs. Becky Minto and Mark Murphy’s streamlined set design offers a blank canvas for a tense cinematic experience, but it turns out to be a strong setup for a drama that doesn’t develop.

Enormous projections, of smashing glass and medical imagery are used to reveal what is going through the mind of Ellen Jones (Sarah Swire), a coma patient trapped in her imagination in the aftermath of a tragic accident.

illuminate her subconscious

Doctors and nurses walk up walls, aided by metal ropes, and Ellen spins mid-air while Pod Bluman’s stunning graphics illuminate her subconscious. Ellen’s altered mental state is beautifully crafted and synchronised perfectly to Liz Powell’s lighting and Nathaniel Reed’s evocative music. The effect is mesmerising.

Out of this World. Jane Hobson

The short scenes of stilted memories are designed to show that Ellen is confused – and we are too, but our bewilderment is due the lack of informative dialogue rather than a clever theatrical device. Given this, Swire brings some needed clarity to this underdeveloped character, and her skill combined with a successful plot twist brings emotional resonance.

Swire is well supported by Scott Hoatson as her husband, and a team of medical staff played by Catherine Cusack, Itxaso Moreno and Anwar Russell, but they too are limited by the confines of the script.

The high production values are let down by the writing, and the choreography is not quite impressive enough to compensate. This show disappoints as it is neither a piece of physical theatre with dialogue nor a play with aerial elements, but much like Ellen is caught in a world between the two.

This high-octane production still remains a visually stunning spectacle throughout. With more emphasis on plot development it might even reach the level of the genre-defying psychological thriller that it set out to be.

Running time: 1hr 20mins (without interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tuesday 23/Wednesday 24 May 2017
Evenings at 7.30 pm.
Tickets and details at: http://www.edtheatres.com/outofthisworld

Production website: http://outofthisworldtour.co.uk/.

Out Of This World on tour:
Tue 23 – Wed 24 May Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Fri 26 – Sat 27 May Newcastle
Northern Stage
0191 230 5151 Book online
Tue 30 – Wed 31 May Salford Quays
The Lowry
0843 208 6000 Book online
Fri 2 June Guildford
G Live
01483 369350 Book online
Tue 6 – Wed 7 June Oxford
Oxford Playhouse
01865 305305 Book online
Fri 9 – Sat 10 June Truro
Hall for Cornwall
01872 262466 Book online


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