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The Hours Before We Wake review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘promising satire’

The Hours Before We Wake at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Jack Offord The Hours Before We Wake at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Jack Offord
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Ian lives in the future. It’s pretty much like it is today except for the invasive hi-tech surrounding everyone, which means that even dreams aren’t secret anymore as people control them and then upload them onto the new DreamShare social media platform. But Ian’s just a cog in the vast offices of the corporation where no one watches his dreams, he’s below the radar of the co-worker he fancies, and even the facial recognition systems in the lifts don’t recognise him.

But then one night a mysterious woman appears and turns his world upside down by disabling all the functions of his smart apartment. She needs his help, she can’t tell him why, so of course Ian follows her on a thrilling hunt through the sinister corporation in search of a mysterious file containing a secret that will help them change the world.

It’s an energetic romp with a strong underlay of satire and comedy, devised and performed by James D Kent, Maisie Newman and Kathleen Fitzpatrick Milton. Jack Drewry’s focused direction sets up a framework where they convincingly delineate spaces for the different levels of action, further defined by Rowan Evans who cues in music and sound effects onstage – the mechanical whooshes of a lift, drinks dispenser, fantasy superman cape – which tightly shadow the action.

The cast have neatly created a promising dystopian Philip K Dick meet The Circle universe for their characters. However, there remains work to be done on making things more balanced – the music punctuates transitions well but reduces dramatic contrast and the dialogue isn’t as snappy as the plot demands.

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Verdict
Promising satire creates a convincing dystopian universe but needs work on dramatic contrast
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