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The Future Show, Battersea Arts Centre

Written and Performed by Deborah Pearson

Pros: The performance uses an interesting topic – the passage of time – to explore humanity.
Cons: I felt it was an underdeveloped idea, and there was something missing. Hard to put a finger on exactly what though.
Our Verdict: From award-winning writer and performer Deborah Pearson we get a performance that is very interesting, even if it’s not entirely clear what message she wants the audience to take away from it.
Courtesy of the Battersea Arts Centre
I felt quite at home when I entered the BAC for my first visit. I must admit that I’d never been to this famous place before, despite the ravings of my fellow reviewers about its charm and excellence. However, by the time I’d walked up the steps to the front door I was a little bit in love with the place. This love continued to blossom when I discovered that they sell my favourite alcoholic beverage (if I product place do you think they’ll give me free cider?) – Aspall Cider. Plus, they have a pet cat.
The venue itself is quirky and more like a young people’s commune than a theatre at first glance. It’s a bit like those giant mansions and warehouses you find in Berlin that house squatters but are also the centre point for great art, movements and people. Well, a bit like that, but more organised and much more welcoming obviously! The show started at 9pm so my plus one and I got a round of drinks in and settled into the cafe/bar to watch the world go by before we went up the Staff Rec Room – not the main venue at the BAC, but a black box venue with a nice number of tiered seats – to see the show.
At just 40 minutes, The Future Show is over relatively rapidly, something which I think is probably a pro rather than a con. I’m not saying “I couldn’t wait for it to end”. In fact the subject matter was so interestingly developed that I probably could have listened to it for over an hour. More to the point, the rate and speed at which Pearson moved the piece along at fitted it well, and I feel that were it any longer it would have lingered for too long and started to detract from the show. 
I would describe this piece as being more a performed piece of art as opposed to a play, perhaps calling it theatre in the loosest sense. Pearson breaks down the fourth wall right at the beginning as she tells us the story of her future, predicting it, and exploring the idea of fate. It is an interesting topic that is covered in depth, but whilst I could relate personally to much of what was said I didn’t feel challenged by the piece. As clever as Deborah Pearson is with the script, I feel this piece would be more effective if performed to the same audience two nights in a row! That way, the audience would be able to see that some events discussed occurred, whilst others didn’t. However, that would be terribly difficult, so I’m really suggesting that you go and see it twice I suppose! 
I feel this performance was an exploration of whether we can come to terms with the future, the knowledge that some things are unpredictable while others are definite and almost ‘set in stone’. It was determined at the beginning of the show that we would clap at the end of the performance for example, but the story about a conversation between the performer and an audience member after the show was deemed very unlikely (and as far as I could tell didn’t happen).
Overall, this piece was interesting but I felt it lacked something. Pearson was adept and engaging, as was the freshly written script which had been carefully thought out. But there was something extra I would have liked from this piece, a development of her fascination with the future, with fate and free will, chance and predictions. However, I got the feeling that this is a small cog in a much larger project and I hope to hear more about Deborah Pearson’s work soon.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

The Future Show has now finished its run at the Battersea Arts Centre. For more information about their upcoming shows please visit their website: http://www.bac.org.uk/

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