‘Nosedive’, by SUPERFAN

Review from: Barbican, London; 8th November 2019

SUPERFAN’s latest production, Nosedive, succeeds in creating a performance space truly shared between adult and child performers. The Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust award-winning show feels very cohesive, from the engaging thematic content to the sonically interesting sound design by composer Kim Moore. If you’re looking for a show with heart and a funky – but not overbaked – science-fiction aesthetic, Nosedive ticks all the boxes.

Opening with a simple white backdrop and floor, paired with mostly warm toned lighting design, Nosedive calls to mind images of a sterile and futuristic environment. Themes present in the show resonate with topics often depicted in science-fiction: facing the unknown in humanity’s future, and how this impacts individuals. The costumes looked sleek, particularly the shimmering cream jumpsuits, and fit with the show’s sci-fi aesthetic without being cliché. On the whole, the look of Nosedive feels grounded in its thematic content and not just a superficially pleasing overlay. The show is nicely paced and did not seem to stagnante at any point during its 1 hour 10 minute runtime. Bonus points awarded as the two child performers, Albie Gaizley-Gardiner and Lachlan Payne, felt like fully integrated members of the ensemble.

Throughout Nosedive we see Gardiner and Payne mirror the three adult cast members, performing their versions of adult material. This repetition has charm and both the young performers give engaging performances; impressive at their tender age of ten. Nosedive touches on serious issues, from the personal to the global, and by framing them with the innocence and hopefulness that accompanies youth, the show feels light and not burdensome. This lightness is well balanced by directors Ellie Dubois and Pete Lannon, and I don’t feel the issues are in any way diminutized. The content and casting feels particularly relevant amid recent rises in youth activism regarding climate change, pollution and, of course, Greta Thunberg becoming a household name. 

JD Broussé and Nikki Rummer’s hand to hand stood out as particularly pristine. The connectivity of the ensemble and characterisation of each performer carried through into movement and acrobatic material. This is particularly evident in Michelle Ross’ performance and in Nosedive’s playful opening, where the more common base/flyer dynamics are toyed with in a lovely, comical fashion. 

Lighting designer Michaella Fee well utilizes a large lighting rig wall on stage-right, to both paint the space and enhance the more acrobatic sections of movement. At certain points when performers faced this, I was reminded of a scientist or explorer looking at the universe in contemplation or awe. A contrasting section that stood out to me was a duet between Broussé and Payne. Here, the contrasting dark blue wash drew me into the more sentimental nature of the material.

Certain images stick in my mind. A single child onstage surrounded by thick smoke is a poignant image, the suggestion of a possible future? Nosedive skirts around having a direct message and instead presents the unknown. Each cast member wrestles with issues relevant to them and their current position in life. We can make guesses or try to analyse where we are headed but our future will always remain uncertain.

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