There’s something reassuringly nostalgic about the panic we felt for the millennium bug. Computers thinking it was 1900 was just such a dumb way for the world to end. The latest piece from Argonaut captures that clash of panic and hope, anxiety and ridiculousness.
Ten minutes before the millennium, two teenage sisters have had enough of a New Year’s Eve party and wander on a hill near Bournemouth. Mary (brilliant, playful Molly-Rose Treves) thinks that everything is about to change for the better, Ruth (great sarcasm and moping from Jesse Bateson) is certain of more of the same. They meet a couple who are convinced the apocalypse is nigh.
Then it’s midnight, and the show moves into a series of strange interludes. Each actor stands at a mic in turn and delivers their fantasies or dreams or parallel existences. Is this the apocalypse? Real or imagined? It’s not clear and doesn’t need to be.
Rory Horne’s writing pits the extreme optimism of Mary against the extreme pessimism of Ruth, and shows how those two attitudes don’t really map onto the way life actually works. The millennium bug didn’t kill us, the world doesn’t end in an instant.
Horne’s writing packs a lot into a little, including 1990s references mainlined like an IV drip, from S Club 7 to candy bracelets. It feels unresolved, maybe a bit messy, but it’s still a pleasantly strange and searching look at the end(s) of the world(s).