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“A theatrical mri”

Eight years ago, Belgian theatre-wreckers Ontrorend Goed unleashed a baker’s dozen of teenagers on the Edinburgh Fringe. Their show was titled Once and for All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, and it presented an explosion of hormone-fuelled behaviour intended to confront and disrupt. Last year the far less assuming Islington Community Theatre took on a similar theme, with 10 teenagers of its own, drawn from their company, and a Wellcome Trust-approved pair of neuroscientists in tow, and their witty, considered and vital performance offers as much of the why as the what. To see a teenager, it posits, you not only have to shut up and listen, you have to dig a lot deeper.

Brainstorm is a theatrical MRI scan. Its young cast blends scientific explanation with personal exorcism. They put us in the classroom, snap a selfie, and then warp it into a confessional. They imitate their parents, then rip into them, then silently plead their love. They’re a mess of greedy synapses and overloaded endocrine systems, but, as they explain, they’re also as brilliant as they’ll ever be. It’s all downhill from there.

The scientific background removes the need for any kind of intrusive social message, allowing the emotions and voices of this extraordinary group of performers to rise and fall naturally, exploding into violence and retreating into a quiet, nascent maturity. This is fresh work, important work, built with honesty and, above all, a willingness to listen.

Production Details
Production nameBrainstorm
EndsJuly 25, 2016
Running time1hr 10mins
AuthorEmily Lim, Ned Glasier, The Company
Set designerCharlie Damigos
Lighting designerJohanna Town
Sound designerElena Peña
CastDylan Lubo, Michael Adewale, Sama Aunallah, Serafina Willow, Yaamin Chowdhury
Stage managerSarah Stott, Sophie Rubenstein
ProducerIslington Community Theatre
VerdictA theatrical MRI that lets a company of talented teenagers speak for themselves
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