Are you seeking Sanctuary? This may be a line from 1970s dystopian sci-fi flick Logan's Run, but it applies with an equal sense of foreboding to this up to the minute piece devised, written and performed by the young people who make up this year's Scottish Youth Theatre National Ensemble.
Under the direction of Brian Ferguson, the twenty-strong ensemble lay bare a scarily familiar futurescape, where an online idol offers dream tickets for a new luxury housing development where all mod cons and a whole lot more besides are at your fingertips. Providing, that is, you stay in line with what the Siri-like voice says is good for you and don't stray too far from the cameras watching your every move.
In a scenario that fuses both Orwell and Endemol's ideas of Big Brother with 1960s TV show, The Prisoner, rebellion is inevitable, as the young people kept in line by digital means rise up. Sanctuary here is a place which doubles up as lo-fi Internet free haven, speakeasy bar and gang-hut, and where anybody is welcome as long as they keep their presence on the lowdown. Even revolution can be turned into cash, alas, as the original Sanctuary gang discover before taking a step into the wilderness to take on the world anew.
What emerges over the show’s seventy-minutes are a set of of very zeitgeisty concerns, about social control by seemingly benevolent corporations and the power of the collective in the face of an out of control surveillance culture. This is delivered with a wit, style and confidence using a mash-up of rhyming out-front address and some rowdy shape-throwing care of movement director Rachel Drazerk, with Lewis den Hertog's state of art video inserts dotted about Jen McGinley’s set. All of which suggests that, while the near future may look bleak, it can yet be rewritten. This is something audiences might discover for themselves when the show tours to Inverness, Aberdeen, Dumfries and Callander this week.
The Herald, July 22nd 2019