Home » London Theatre Reviews » Minority Report at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre | Review

Minority Report at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre | Review

The increasing role of artificial intelligence in society is reflected in this suitably tech-heavy science fiction play, with a repeated joke that fully human Dame Julia Anderton (Jodie McNee) just might turn AI assistant David (Tanvi Virmani) back into Alexa, or even worse, Siri, if it – pronouns assumed – doesn’t do what Julia expects it to do. Some context: the show begins at the tenth-anniversary celebration of British Pre-Crime, an organisation that analyses data held on citizens with a view to identifying and capturing anyone who would, according to their brain patterns, commit a crime against the person in the future. In other words, the literal thought police.

Ricardo Castro, Jodie McNee and Xenoa Ledgister-Campbell in Minority Report. Photo by Marc Brenner.
Ricardo Castro, Jodie McNee and Xenoa Ledgister-Campbell in Minority Report. Photo by Marc Brenner.

There are, as Fleming (Danny Collins) and his sidekick Ana (Roseanna Frascona) point out, flaws in this system, most notably as it is, to put it mildly, an infringement on personal liberty. Without giving too much away, the idea that a human can change their mind is thoughtfully explored – Dame Julia, as the head of British Pre-Crime, extols the benefits of a drastically reduced amount of criminal activity, and society has returned to the days (which your reviewer can just about remember) when it wasn’t vital to lock one’s doors before bed, and getting back up again to double-check the back door is secure isn’t necessary. Video footage plays of children playing together in the streets. But what happens if (spoiler alert) Dame Julia herself is identified by British Pre-Crime as a future killer – how do the wheels of justice turn?

Jon Bausor’s set is futuristic but not entirely other-worldly – hackney carriages, for instance, drive themselves, such that ‘The Knowledge’ is consigned to history, and David has ways of appearing from time to time as a hologram, which made me think of ABBA Voyage. Some humorous digs are made at today’s society, such as commonly used technological gadgets on the market ‘in the twenties’ making retro-style comebacks (the show is set between 2050 and 2055).

McNee’s Dame Julia has good stage presence, and goes through a wide range of emotions, including fear and frustration, although at least one outburst is so intense that, to be blunt, not every line could be understood. The show’s choreography is bizarre in places, even if it is something to smile at – it’s meant, I think, to attempt to portray a busy and bustling futuristic London, but to achieve the full effect, the show really needed a bigger ensemble.

At 90 minutes, it’s considerably shorter than the 145-minute movie of the same name. Briskly paced, it manages to be both entertaining and intriguing in equal measure. It’s also easy to understand – if anything, the narrative could have been more sophisticated to match the complexity of the technical aspects of the show. Mind you, there is more than enough to talk about on the journey home, and the show quite easily held my interest from beginning to end.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

In 2050, neuroscientist Dame Julia Anderton is about to launch the next phase of her pioneering Pre-Crime programme, detaining people for crimes before they are committed.

But when Julia is accused of pre-murder, she’s in a race against time to save herself from her own system.

This thrilling adaptation of Philip K Dick’s iconic story challenges our beliefs about justice and freewill in a real-time chase through London of the future.

A Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse and Birmingham Rep co-production In association with Simon Friend Entertainment and by arrangement with Electric Shepherd Productions
Minority Report
Written by David Haig. Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick. Directed by Max Webster.
20 April – 18 May 2024
https://lyric.co.uk/

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