Intronauts (2 stars)

Intronauts

credit: Mark Dawson Photography

Slow moving and slight visual comedy

Despite running at around a hour, Intronauts fails to build on its science-fiction premise – a miniaturised human acting as a living cleaner inside another, full-sized, human's body – and relies heavily on spectacle: due to the limited plot, the technically impressive object manipulation only lifts this production above the mundane without ever exploring the themes of creativity and scientific advance that it quickly introduces and allows to dissipate.

The emphasis on spectacle – whether it is the small vehicle within the human body floating through the intestines and the battles of the cleaner against the body's natural defence systems or the precisely realised interior of the vehicle – undermines the development of the two protagonists. When the cleaner is asked to visit the brain, an area forbidden because of the potential risks, the production becomes a psychedelic adventure with shades of the notoriously incoherent finale of Kubrick's 2001. Yet despite the visual attractiveness and imagination on display, a lack of depth prevents either emotional or intellectual engagement.

Using Simon Preston's bracing score to emphasise moments of dramatic tension, the episodic structure – the cleaner fixes an itchy bottom, struggles to maintain a vehicle that is in need of repair while the host attempts to overcome a creative block – moves slowly towards its inconclusive finale, alluding to science fiction tropes without grounding the action in a recognisable context: like both the cleaner and her host, Intronauts is alienated and lacks a meaningful purpose to add drive and energy.

Part of the manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, then touring.

Manipulate Festival

Puppet Animation Scotland collates a collection of world-class animation, puppetry and related performing arts of all styles and techniques from a range of international artists and companies. The 2020 event features late-night music events, café-cabarets, workshops and more.

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