“X” is not what it appears.
“X” is set on a small research base on Pluto. Pluto’s distance from the Sun is 3.67 billion miles. Much like the planet itself, “X” relies on what you bring to it. It is both engrossing and alienating.
“X” is not what it seems.
Written by Demi-God Alistair McDowall and directed by Vicky Featherstone with customary assurance, this production is incoherent, but looks good and is mostly well acted. Sure “X” is ambitious. Even startling. But too many plot points are left to the audience’s imagination without absolutely any explanation whatsoever.
Superb as the visuals are, I wish that Featherstone’s production paid more attention to McDowall’s language. Not much is made visually apprehensible.
I liked the huge dead bird on stage and the bird that was flown in – wonderful
opportunities for design and stage management. I didn’t enjoy quite so much
all that mum stuff at the end and the last moment when someone said the tree
was her mother(!).
Science fiction never announces its subtext this narcissistically. Still, it’s a smart response to the excesses of the sci-fi genre. Without wishing to baffle you, people are doing this shit because everything is fucked. Theatre needs to be instrumental in un-fucking everything.
But as is the way with these things, it’s hard to get a proper feel for a play like this on one viewing, but “X” feels like a genuine attempt to steal the currently vacant theatre throne, as well as being the kind of gloriously all over the shop play that you often get in 2016.
It seemed like a 6/10 event – slightly above average and, for that reason, an average McDowall play.
McDowall’s got talent but at the moment no very coherent way of presenting his ideas. We shall see how he moves forward.
At the Royal Court, London, until 7 May. Buy tickets for X from www.royalcourt.com