Arriving at the inherently futuristic Royal Victoria Docks and venturing in to “The Crystal,” LAStheatre had pretty much found the perfect setting for their production New Atlantis, set in 2050.
The audience enter a vast vestibule that looks a bit like it could have been used as set for Logan’s Run. After some mingle time, we soon realised that we were about to be addressed in the style of a very important meeting. Our suspicions were correct as we were soon acknowledged our status as “Agents of New Atlantis” (a new age kind of UN) and were told we needed to elect a new head of the company following the resignation of it’s former leader. Warned of the bite from “generation Alpha” (the disenfranchised youth) we were asked to explore the various departments of New Atlantis in order to find our new leader. Therefore off we trotted around the departments of Defence, Reform and Industry to educate ourselves.
After a dramatic start, the exploration section of New Atlantis was a bit low key; dramatically speaking there wasn’t a lot going on. That said, it was all very interesting and I felt that this was a crucially educating section of the piece that transcended drama and acted as a real life warning of the direction in which our planet is heading. For instance the Department of Defence plans to impose a water sharing system (but only for member states,) the Department of Reform wants to re-evaluate our attitude to carbon footprints and the Department of Industry wants to invest in space travel in order to see what other options the human race may have.
It’s all very clever and extremely interesting; I found myself quizzing the exceptionally well rehearsed actors on their departments policies – those guys CERTAINLY knew what they were talking about.
1 hour was not quite enough for me to fully engage with each department but I was still pretty excited when the time came to cast my vote… that was until the pesky generation Alpha rained on everyone’s parade.
In election year, New Atlantis is very topical and brings politics to the stage in a way the audience can understand, engage with and best of all, care about. The only real problem was that it was all a bit of an anti-climax. Votes were cast, results were published and then boom, that’s it. I wanted to see the effect of our decision making; was it the right vote to cast? What is the state of the world post revolution? Disappointing.
New Atlantis acts to raise awareness about sustainability and climate change; it is not often I leave the “theatre” feeling like I have truly learnt something, much less feeling like I want to actually do something about it. The most alarming thing about the show is that the future it predicts is not too far away; as a 26 year old, this is a future I should live in, raise my children and grand children in.
Despite being an interesting and didactic evening, I can’t help but feel that the piece was lacking narrative and drama; arguably two of theatre’s most crucial ingredients. Whilst I would recommend the show from an awareness raising point of view (that would perhaps be perfect for school children) I feel like it needs more work in order to become the all encompassing piece of drama that it should be.
New Atlantis runs at The Crystal until 25th January. Book tickets here.