Secret Life of Humans, 4 Stars
Pleasance Two at the Courtyard (Venue 33)
“In 1949, Dr Jacob Bronowski installs a secret, alarmed room in his house. Fifty years later his grandson discovers his secrets, unearthing echoes of six million years of human history, compressed into a single century in which every year is a revolutionary year.
Inspired by the Yuval Harari’s international bestseller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. In 1949, Dr Jacob Bronowski installs a secret, alarmed room in his house. Fifty years later, his grandson discovers his secrets, unearthing echoes from across six million years of human history, told from the perspective of a century in which every year is a revolutionary year. Following their sell-out production of Down and Out in Paris and London, multi award-winning New Diorama return to Pleasance with a World Premiere.”
With the show starting with House Lights up, there’s a deliberate breaking of the fourth wall as we’re told to question humans as a species. The show settles into a part documentary, part love story production that lets us in on the locked secrets of Dr Jocob Bronowski’s room.
The production is visually stunning! The rear wall a solid chalkboard with incredible projections that swirl through adding to our imaginations. Aerial rigging allows the actors, 2 at a time, to walk horizontally across the chalkface. Brilliant set pieces on wheeled trucks are moved and revolved and interact with the staging to take us from restaurant to living room, to war room, to lounge, into a library and into the secret alarmed room.
This is an amazing show and full admiration for getting it in and out of a Fringe venue in the tiniest amount of allowable time. Very impressive!
But, and there’s a big but here, the play somehow fails to emotionally grip. It’s all very academic and not quite interesting or revealing enough to land the impact you’d hope. The emotional journey is all on the same level. I found I wasn’t too bothered that the girl didn’t fall in love with the boy, she rejected his advances and it felt flat. I wasn’t that excited or surprised when the secret of the locked room was revealed. The comedy element was good but the love story lacked passion.
The production photos (David Monteith-Hodge) show why you should go see this show, just don’t expect it to rock your World!