Choreographers: Requardt & Rosenberg
Set inside a 40-foot haulage truck, Future Cargo is an interpretive performance and dance production that considers human life from a potentially non-human perspective. As the creators of this show themselves ask, ‘If you were an alien coming to earth for the first time, what would you think of our behaviours?’
Set on some derelict land sandwiched between modern housing developments and neglected Victorian warehouses, a stranded lorry sits isolated. The audience is handed a set of headphones and invited to take a seat, looking side on to the parked vehicle. The headphones play an imperceptible soundscape of pulsating hums that gradually gets louder.
The side of the lorry lifts to reveal Hannah Clark’s design: a continually moving travelator backlit by a wall of fluorescent tube lighting. Along the travelator pass a series of faceless, genderless, silver spandex-cladded mannequin-shaped beings. They start off in static poses, foetal positioned, crouched or kneeling, as they pass along the moving floor. Slowly they start positioning themselves upright, they start to stand, and then move, increasingly acting more human-like.
While this is happening, the audience is immersed in an audioscape that mixes a pulsating backtrack with cuts of rhythmic jazz-influenced melodies and audio clips of interviews about alien sightings. There’s a fair distance between the audience and the truck, but with the audio being delivered via headphones, there’s an interesting juxtaposition between large scale and intimate, that’s both immersive and yet voyeuristic.
This contradiction of scale and engagement gives the overall performance a mesmeric yet eerie feeling. You’re never too sure what you’re watching: it’s familiar but at the same time new. The performers deliver a remarkable feat, representing these alien beings learning about human behaviours on a continually moving conveyor belt.
Playing as part of The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, Future Cargo provides us with an interesting mirror. It’s an intriguing and, at times, humorous performance that inventively blends sound, movement and light to deliver a deeply engaging and captivating show.
Reviewed on 3 September 2021