To Camden once more for a trip to the Camden People’s Theatre to see The W.I.G. of Life: A Conference, a new show being presented as part of the Central School of Speech and Drama Format Festival celebrating work made by students on Advanced Theatre Practice, MA/MFA.
Unusually in a theatre, the audience is offered a chance to accessorise themselves before taking their seats. For this is no ordinary show and we are no ordinary audience. Instead, we were delegates at a very special conference. Hosted by a single AI creature, assisted by three humanoid-appearing AI avatars (Francesca Fatichenti, Christof Hofer, and Arielle Zilkha), the conference has a single, very important purpose, to decide the future of biological life.
Now, that’s all I can say about the production as The W.I.G. of Life: A Conference is a very interactive show where the audience gives their views throughout and make the ultimate decision at the end. Written by the cast, this one-act show moves along well and uses some unusual and innovative ways to engage with its audience. Without saying too much, while video is fairly commonplace in shows these days, it is always welcome, especially when interactive. Additionally, the use of wigs and light to convey a story is something I’ve not seen before but found quite fascinating, especially in the first of the looks into human history.
The cast, who also wrote and directed, are first-rate. Dressed from head to toe in a silver lycra suit with matching blue wigs, they really came across as humanoid-appearing avatars. I recently saw the movie T.I.M. and was impressed with the performance of the lead actor. This was very similar with the three actors having a slightly creepy otherworldliness about them that was just on the wrong side of humanity in expression and movement.
The show itself works pretty well, and the audience on the whole really engaged with their parts. However, there were a couple of awkward silences when audience members were asked to suggest certain answers to some odd questions. The cast worked hard to make sure these were minimised, but I did wonder if they were necessary or could have been done in a different way. Similarly, I was a bit confused about the conference controller, who didn’t work for me the way the three characters did.
However, saying that, I did enjoy The W.I.G. of Life: A Conference. As a concept it worked well and the cast really gave themselves to the performance so that everyone was engaged and, from what I could see, willing to take part. I even ended up speaking to my neighbour (at the appropriate time), something I usually avoid like the plague.
Whilst the audience didn’t agree with me in the answer to the ultimate question, I didn’t mind that much and left the theatre feeling entertained and educated – mainly thanks to the fascinating court scenes – and slightly worried that the decision we made may be one the AI world makes in the not-too-distant future.
Review by Terry Eastham
Biological life is (nearly) extinct.
One organism has the power to bring it back. The choice is yours.
From the neolithic to the age of AI, The W.I.G of Life is a witty and thought-provoking look into human history and our collective responsibility towards nature and ourselves, devised by the artists of Psychonaut Theatre.
Script and direction by Francesca Fatichenti,
Christof Hofer and Arielle Zilkha.
Dramaturgy by Christof Hofer.
Produced by Arielle Zilkha.
Performed by Francesca Fatichenti, Christof
Hofer and Arielle Zilkha.
Music composition by Arielle Zilkha.
Scenography by Francesca Fatichenti.
The new production from Psychonaut Theatre,
The W.I.G of Life, runs at Camden People’s Theatre on 29th August 2023 at 7:00pm and 30th
August at 8:30pm, and at Etcetera Theatre on 7th and 8th September at 7:00pm.