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No Future – Camden People’s Theatre

Reviewer: Eve Newstead

Creator: Adam Welsh

Director: Tim Lee

Covid pressed pause on life as we once knew it. For over a year now, it has been impossible to plan for the future; the uncertainty of the virus has us suspended in the present pandemic. So, despite being incredibly personal, No Future, a project about one man’s inability to see the future, speaks to us all in this moment.

Adam Welsh presents this intriguing work live and as part of Camden People’s Theatre’s Outside the Box, a commission to develop larger-scale projects which explore what ‘live performance’ can be at a time of closed theatres. He revisits and re-enacts the real-life burglary of his flat and the effects of its aftermath on his sense of self and time. In struggling to see beyond the act of the burglary – the violation of his private space – and the mess it has left, he looks to the history of his family to make sense of who he can be moving forward. Time and space collide, as Adam brings Spennymoor in the north east, where he was born and raised, into his now hostile London flat.

A writer, director and sound designer, Welsh’s talents are multifaceted, and this is clear in the distinctive way he bridges film, theatre and installation. Director Tim Lee, in his bonus feature video, described their creative process as “not knowing where you are going but trusting the direction that the material takes you.” This shows in the curious way No Future works simultaneously as a true crime documentary, home video, personal history, art installation and family profile. The way these forms merge adds to the sense of Adam’s uncertainty and draining restlessness. The scenes shift between Welsh’s real flat, and a stage set flat. Adam is never alone, never at ease from the threat of an intruder watching him.

Much-needed comfort comes from Adam’s family, not only for him, but for the viewers. Against the ransacked flat their voices bring a northern warmth which provides hope that everything will be okay. Both mam and dad offer strength in their normality and genuineness. Welsh’s use of special effects on home video and other footage such as graphic novel style filters, overlay and varying speeds, elevates their stories, their faces and physicalities. You want to know more from them. Which is why the bonus videos are such a treat – particularly the one about his dad’s salsa dancing.

Elements of the camera work are dizzying, particularly the repetitive use of flickering scenes and the shaky, hazy hand-held style. However, the piece as a whole is incredibly polished, considering the difficult use of multimedia and contrasting forms. What is missing is a strong ending. The “this old man” song repeated throughout returns, but the recurrent haunting singing only prompts thoughts of cheesy horror movies, which is in discord with the work’s originality. Adam’s closing address to camera differs only slightly in message to his opening. Momentum is somewhat lost. Perhaps, though, this is fitting for the work’s title as well as for the future of live performances for a while longer.

Runs here until  17 April 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A A distinctive contemporary performance.

User Rating: 4.55 ( 1 votes)

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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