Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Bridge House Theatre, London

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

Writer and Director: Simon Perrot

In the future, ubiquitous shopping service Zamanon can deliver anything, including android escorts. And through their all-encompassing data harvesting techniques, these robotic sex workers already know which buttons to push.

Simon Perrot’s futuristic tale starts off intriguingly, with Derek Oppong’s reclusive Keith receiving an unexpected visit from sexy droid Rupert (Radostin Radev). A gift from an anonymous friend, Rupert’s presence throws up moral and ethical issues for Keith – although not enough to resist sleeping with him.

While there would be much to unpack about the creeping commercialism of corporate behemoths like Amazon and their ability to destroy any industry sector (in this case, sex work), Perrot’s tale is more interested in events fifteen years earlier, as Keith’s Brandon (also Radev) reveals to his partner the conspiracy that has led to their world.

In the ensuing discussion, Brandon reveals his theory of how their world – in which nobody can go outside without extensive paperwork, due to ongoing and persistent life-threatening weather conditions – has become the way it has.

Perrot’s extrapolation from current politics to a situation where the richest 0.1% – the “Takers” – live supercharged lives free from the strictures placed upon the proletariat – might be an interesting background to a tale set in such a world. Here, however, it is the whole point, with Radev’s character required to deliver some excruciatingly detailed exposition to Oppong.

There is an undercurrent of enhancements in robotics and AI of the sort that, outside the extensive flashback, led to Rupert’s development. Brandon claims that the authorities are replacing subversive individuals with android impostors, preventing dissent from building and replacing disruptive humans with subservient drones.

That this belief might lead someone like Brandon to terrorist action is intriguing. That such action might lead to him, too, being replaced is fascinating. However, the former never really comes off due to the leaden quality of Perrot’s dialogue and the latter is never experienced, only referred to in passing as Oppong relates the events to Radev’s Rupert.

The sense of artificiality that Radev gives his android persona is effectively unsettling, contrasting nicely at first with Offong’s befuddled Keith. But as the story moves into the past, there is not enough distinction made between the robotic sex worker and the human Brandon.

The inclusion of a montage of protest movements from Suffragists to Pride marches and Black Lives Matter, which transitions into the people and corporations in power, might land better in a production where the dialogue is not quite so on the nose and plainly drawn. Here, it becomes superfluous.

While there is plenty to interrogate in the world Perrot has created, where Everybody Wants to Rule the World fails is in its attempt to draw a human story within that world. The result is characters, and a narrative, that struggle to maintain our interest in a world of missed opportunity.

Continues until 10 September 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Missed opportunity

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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