Walking up the steps to the Old 505 is always an anticipatory experience and as I climb the steps on Tuesday evening to the opening night of Road Train Production’s JackData , I can already hear the excited murmur of a full foyer.
As the first show of The Old 505’s FreshWorks 2018 season, JackData: a play about the perfect man. presents some original and challenging concepts in a reimagined take on the relationship between human and ‘humanoid’. In a world where a successful, career-driven woman without spouse or children is hardly successful at all, Ruth Bell (Director/Playwright) has served up an intelligent comedy that comments on feminism and the family unit whilst driving home the cautionary narrative of what it means to be human.
The design is crisp and unified on all fronts and this contributes to the sense of unease we begin to feel when – what appears to be a familiar vignette of a comfortable home – becomes a site of social experiment, manipulation and coercion.
Opening night nerves vibrate through the cast and there are moments I am sure will settle following their first show. The most authentic performance comes from Richard Cotter whose clarity and ease makes the rigidity of other cast members more apparent.
The stand out performance however comes from JackData himself, played by Mathias Olofsson who’s physicality as a machine is both hilarious and truly captivating to observe. This level of commitment to posture and reoccurring gestures is very impressive.
The cast falters on diction and projection at times which is disappointing because their physical life is sustained throughout. However, given this was the opening show, I am confident the work will peak beautifully with its short season. Don’t miss out.
JackData runs until February 11 at the Old 505 Theatre, Newtown.
M Osborne – Theatre Now & On The Town