The De Nova Super
- Gareth K Vile
- 7 August 2019
Mood-hopping science fiction physical theatre
Although it has many more richly resonant references, The De Nova Super has the atmosphere of Waiting for Godot in space: the duo replace Beckett's sharp dialogue with evocative choreography, and Godot turns up in the form of a sentient computer. The mesh of comedy and serious philosophical reflection may not quite have settled – there is a gap between the two performers' physical styles that is unsettling and the extended introduction sacrifices communication for spectacle – but the production is a strong example of theatre's potential to explore the fantastic and unknown.
An ecological catastrophe has flung humanity into space – the two astronauts who arrive at the titular spaceship have come to fix the species' last great hope – and the hostile void of deep space is challenging the evolving consciousness of the onboard AI. While one astronaut, Special, gets on with planting seeds and cultivating soil, his partner is caught up in recollections of his son. The piece meditates on the meaning of being human or mechanical and the lurking threats of disaster both on Earth and in space, with atmospheric lighting and an intense soundscape adding a seriousness to some of the more comic episodes. The mood, inevitably, becomes darker.
The predictability of the plot undermines some of the energy, but The De Nova Super is unashamed of embracing complex ideas, doubling up as a visual extravaganza, with low-fi props capturing a makeshift vision of space-travel and a contemplative journey into the future.
Assembly George Square, until 26 Aug (not 12, 19), 3pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).