This may be the first science-fiction play that really works. Ivor Benjamin's script skilfully paces the shock of the narrative, and his direction brings out consistently solid ensemble work. The premise – the quest to suppress a lethal designer drug – could come from any cyberpunk novel, and the plot – which sends criminal agents into the Central London Containment Zone – is pure John Carpenter; Mutants, though, is an original.
Karin Charlesworth as the sneering Ulsterwoman, Travis, wanders through the urban junk dealing with Rasta software pirates, street pedlars hawking now rare and prized condoms and everywhere encountering the schizophrenic products of the drug. Scenes are intercut, the narrative accelerates and becomes jerkier, increasing the filmic impression of the piece as the full horror of the drug's viral effect, and its inexorable progress, are unmasked piecemeal. The development of this show and its offshoots (a musical? comics? computer games?) like that of a virus, should be followed closely.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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