At a time when Westminster, it seems, can’t look as far as next week with any confidence, asking a group of fifteen young people from Deptford to look fifty years into the future feels a timely political act. Indeed, WOW Everything is Amazing is a headliner of Battersea Arts Centre’s Homegrown: Occupy Festival which focuses on under-represented communities. So far so worthy. It seems, however, the ‘worthy memo’ didn’t quite reach the show’s diverse ensemble (aged 12-21) who devised the performance as the Sounds Like Chaos company. They have produced a piece of theatre that must count as the most fun and accessible show I have seen in a long while, from any age group. I laughed a lot, and not at the adolescent humour you might expect, but at a brilliantly on-point satire of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the rest. Rather than be slaves to their phones, the young cast rather gloriously seem the masters here. They certainly see through the tech giants’ marketing and branding efforts well enough to mock them cleverly and, it has to be said, rather mercilessly. .
The performance-come-prediction takes the form of an evangelical church service in a digital world with familiar Star Trek stylings. It is made up of a series of vignettes played out while we worship the ‘Godhead’ (think Zuckerburg) and upload our data to the cause. There is preaching, live music, dance, prayer and bearing witness but also, whisper it, offline and analogue dissent too. It is a clever device because we feel part of the congregation and complicit in the action. There are, rest assured, jokes for any old people present too. Can you imagine a pre-text world where you had to meet your friends actually at the time you had arranged? Madness! The fun doesn’t mean politics is forgotten. Far from it. Identity, race and gender are front and centre throughout and inclusiveness is handled effortlessly. If you find any of that confusing or problematic in 2019 than I am afraid you are simply on the wrong side of history.
The production values are second to none. Slick digital projections from VIDEOfeet dominate as you might expect. They are seamlessly integrated with Sarah Readman’s impressive lighting design and Kat Heath’s set and costumes. All of which achieve a lot in a small space. The music, composed by Keir Vine who is responsible for the sound design too, is a credible mix of hip-hop, gospel and electronica with a touch of Sega Mega Drive thrown in for good measure.
It is the ensemble’s skill, wit and knowing humour that sticks with you though. They invite trust. Each one of them knows what is important, holds the keys to the future and, praise the Lord, gives us hope. Amazing? It is rather, yes. You should definitely experience it.
Devised by: SOUNDS LIKE CHAOS
Conceived and directed by: Gemma Rowan and Roisin Feeny
Written by: Roisin Feeny
Booking Until: 12 April 2019 at Battersea Arts Centre, then touring
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk/content/45330/whats_on/whats_on/shows/wow_everything_is_amazing