Theatre Ad Infintum’s Light: An Otherworldly Achievement

Theatre Ad Infinitum are becoming something of an Edinburgh Fringe phenomenon.

Theatre Ad Infinitum are becoming something of an Edinburgh Fringe phenomenon. 2014 is the seventh consecutive year the international London-based ensemble group have brought a show to the Fringe, and Light is arguably their most innovative show yet.

An accomplished company

Theatre Ad Infinitum seek to create unconventional theatre that harnesses the universal language of the body. They draw on their cultural differences in language and nationality, to unify them into one engaging performance tour-de-force.

Since their Fringe premier in 2008 with the groundbreaking Behind the Mirror, which was named the Observer’s Best of the Fringe, the company have been hard at work.

Their 2009 show Odyssey won The Stage Award for Best Solo Performer, and in 2010 they were shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award for The Big Smoke. Continuing the wave of widespread acclaim, in 2011 the company won a whole host of awards for Translunar Paradise, including the Fringe Review’s Outstanding Theatre Award, and The Observer’s Alternative Iron Man Award.

This year, their production Light, a groundbreaking physical theatre performance that presents a dystopian future, and features Orwellian-esque brain implants connecting every human through cyberspace, has set the bar even higher.

A new theatrical experience

Entering into Theatre Ad Infinitum’s dystopian empire begins when you set foot inside the Pleasance Dome’s blacked-out performance space. 

Intense darkness permeates the room, and a fiercely visual and terrifying display begins as the cast wield high-powered torches, and simulate torture and mind-control scenes in spotlights of white light across the stage. 

Physicality, extraordinary uses of light, and a perfectly sequenced soundscape build throughout the show, to fully realise a future which feels much like what would happen if Orwell’s Big Brother met The Matrix. 

Mechanical slickness

The perfect synchronisity between physical movement, mechanical soundscape, skillful lighting, and written dialogue on a brightly-lit back-screen, is a phenomenal achievement by the company.

Even more impressive, is that the startlingly realistic sounds of machinery, torture, and a steadily whirring cyberspace, are created almost entirely by a beat-boxer positioned at the back of the theatre with a microphone, who watches the performance with eagle-eyed attention.

A timely plot

This futuristic tale of privacy, surveillance, and mind-control uses no spoken text whatsoever, and yet the meaning is never lost.

Following the surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden, Theatre Ad Infinitum have created a dystopia set in the 21st century, where humans are fitted with internet implants enabling the people around them – and the government – to read and control their thoughts.

Green “freedom” lights are poisoned by floating red “control” lights, as one-by-one the populace are forced to conform to the whims of one all-powerful tyrant, sitting at the centre of an online webspace like a terrifying technological spider.

Another reinvention

This is a company that refuses to be pigeonholed. In 2012, Translunar Paradise told the heartbreaking story of two star-crossed lovers using masks and music to great effect. And in 2013 they tackled the Israel-Palestine conflict through a glorious cabaret and drag act.

This year, Light takes their accomplishment in theatrical form to new levels of technical expertise, presenting us with a glimpse into our own dark future that lingers long after the lights come back on.

This is without a doubt the company’s most ambitious show so far, and the snapshots of pulsing imagery will linger for weeks in the mind of the watcher. If you see one show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, make it this one.

Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Light is being performed August 12th – 17th, and 19th – 25th, at 17:15 (1 hour 20 minutes) in the Pleasance Dome.

What do you think of the show? Have your say in the comments section below.