Imagine a future where your ego is suppressed at birth and a chip in your brain is connected to a super computer called Darren who knows all the answers to everything. Introduce a simple stapler girl, Lynn (Hayley Osborne), who has spent 10 years saving up enough money to have the procedure reversed to restore her ego and then immediately regrets it, and you have the concept of Rats.
It’s a really interesting concept, if a little heavy on its leanings to Orwell, but something about this production just doesn’t quite work. Perhaps it’s the conflict between Rats (who are meant to be wholly controlled by Darren and his data and algorithms), or perhaps it’s the Cons (who created Darren and oversee the Rats), but the idea just doesn’t gel enough in a way to make it believable. The Rats appear to have too much consciousness and the Cons appear to have too little control.
“Darren knows best,” we are told on numerous occasions, but clearly he doesn’t. Darren malfunctions and mayhem (apparently) ensues. Obviously it’s tricky to act out such a turn of events, but I was left feeling unclear about what was so different in this world where Darren is no longer working.
Katy (Charlotte Bloomsbury), does a wonderful job of acting the archetypal Rat with her robotic acting skills (in this play, that’s a good thing), but even her performance is not enough to lift this play into the realms of credibility.
Overall, this is an interesting experimental piece that has aimed high in its quota to get the audience to think about this dystopian future, but the storyline needs some work.
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 20th November 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★