Harriet Bignell reviews Code 2021 by Autumn Secret Theatre Project
Never before have I exited a theatre uttering the expression, “wow, that was powerfully awful.”
However, there seems no more fitting analysis of the 3 hours (yes, 3 hours) I sat through at Secret Studio Lab’s Code 2021.
The play is a synthesis of poorly acted, poorly written characters and awkward audience interactions framed by a concept so loosely adhered to that the director would have done better to abandon it completely.
Richard Crawford’s idea of setting a play in a court house and using the audience as jury members is an interesting one. Unfortunately, the clumsily executed result was a cringe worthy evening of inaccurate legal patter and unconvincing characters.
The play centres on the concept of a futuristic trial held in front of a live studio audience who ultimately decide the fate of the accused.
This being the central crux of the performance, you would have thought the gold gild TV presenter, who had something of the Caesar Flickerman from Hunger Games about him, should have been one of the central characters.
In actual fact, his sporadic eruptions into the court room space came as a slight shock each time and I would remember, “oh yeah, this guy is in the play.”
This was due to the fact that as soon as he disappears the concept is abandoned completely and the play becomes an embarrassing attempt to mimic courtroom procedure.
From the skin head policeman discovered to be an English Defence League member to the Colombian next door neighbour who is found to be an illegal immigrant the characters were at best stereotyped or clichéd, and at worse vaguely offensive.
Even the attempt at setting the play in the yet to happen year 2021 fell apart when the presenter made the marvellous faux pas of asking an audience member what they thought of presidential candidate Donald Trump…
The location of this play is truly fabulous and the different spaces utilised make it a truly unique theatre venue. It is a real shame that this wildly ambitious play that so entirely fell short of its objectives does not do this set justice.
For more information about this production see the Secret Studio website
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