REVIEW: Brave New World, Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Brave New World
Brave New World
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The question of social conditioning is examined in the Grand's latest production.

Brave New World is a world premiere tour of the first stage adaptation of Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel.

In a world where humans are barely human, bred and trained to be exactly what the state needs at the precise moment of their creation, I challenge you to go against your social conditioning and see this thought-provoking piece of contemporary theatre.

It's complex but nothing to be afraid of as the story's told in an engaging and accessible fashion, even with little or no prior knowledge of the original work.

Often seen as a companion or comparison work with George Orwell's 1984, but where Owell's dystopian world is one of 'no', the Brave New World is a society of 'yes'.

But this makes the contrast all the more interesting.

Brave New World was written in the 1930s, and is set in a world another 500 years from now, making Huxley's predictions all the more disturbing.

Almost all we see in Dawn King's stage adaptation are well within our 2015 scientific grasp; genetic engineering of the human race, to ensure people are perfectly bred for the role they will fulfil in life, or drugs to keep you constantly happy. When you remember DNA wasn't even known about at the time of his writings, and how far we've come in 80-odd years, it leaves a shudder down the spine.

Alpha male Bernard feels outcast for his differences to the other perfect Alphas around him, working at the London Hatchery And Conditioning Centre (where people are created by science and taught what they need to know), and on a visit to the Savage Reservation - where love, sentiment and humanity still exist - he discovers John, a supposed savage actually born of two high-caste hatchery staff but abandoned.

Bringing John back to the Brave New World, the balance of their differences switches; Bernard becomes accepted, while John's love of poetry, art, people and free thought sees him labelled an anarchist, and ultimately outcast after initial fame and adoration.

The tension runs throughout, with futuristic video clips and stark lighting shaping the world on stage and an original soundtrack from These New Puritans hitting hard into the soul.

A slightly over-drawn final scene removes some of the drama of John's ending, but the audience was still stunned into silence for several moments before applauding the piece.

The Grand is one of just nine theatres nationally hosting this tour, having co-commissioned the work as part of the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, and should be praised for its role in creating a work that's sure to live long into the future.

* Until Saturday. Call (01253) 290190 for tickets.