Out Of This World is a striking piece of new writing from the acclaimed writer and director – Mark Murphy. It is a production that explores the feelings of undergoing an accident, and the subsequent effects in hospital, surgery and the handling of grief. The wonderful technical nuances are what make this such a successful play.
The ensemble has devised this story and, in collaboration with the design team, the final product is incredibly impactful. Notably, the aerial sequence with Itxaso Moreno as the paramedic saving Sarah Swine’s character with a series of pulleys and ropes is breathtaking and contrasts that of the comedic moments between Catherine Cusack and Swine’s characters. These scenes not only evoke a sense of comic relief to this strikingly dystopian setting, but also suggest a power struggle between the protagonist’s life decisions and are certainly a strong point in the production.
It is the combination in creative collaboration between Murphy’s direction, Lizzie Powell’s lighting design, Nathaniel Reed’s sound design, Becky Minto’s set & costume design, Pod Bluman’s projection design and Alex Palmer’s rigging design that makes this such a visual spectacle. The shifts in Minto’s crisp and clinical set, heightened by hard edged, clean cut, cold lighting, to an array of immersive projection is what successfully takes you from the surgery to the mind of the protagonist as she undergoes medical treatment. Minto’s set is assured and clear in its presentation with genuine moments of awe when Reed’s sound design deafeningly drops and Minto’s twenty-odd chairs drop on bungee cords from the roof of the stage. Complete design uniformity is clear; they have set a new impeccable standard, illustrating the opportunities available to other companies.
Murphy’s writing clearly lends itself to theatrical and visual spectacles, but there are times when the book feels somewhat underdeveloped and almost late in its explanation of the story. It is very confusing until our female protagonist (Sarah Swire) directly addresses the audience telling them what is about to happen, in an almost Brechtian approach to address the chaos of the first half an hour. When the plot does become clear, there is more scope for this stunning young actress to explore her character creating some moments of raw emotion with her late husband (Scott Hoatson). Their compelling relationship culminates when an abstract scene between the two allows Swire’s character to decide whether to stay with her husband in death, or return to life.
Out Of This World is a visually striking new piece of theatre with real charge and energy from the cast and creatives. They have managed to produce a work that is so technically advanced, it is to be commended. A plot that explores grief, power, guilt, control and life; it is a production well worth immersing yourself into.
Catch it on its tour across the UK this year.
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