Review: 2065, Colchester Arts Centre

The year is 2065 and the country is ruled by an oppressive regime made up of powerful corporations. Music is banned and as for entertainment? Forget it. No, this isn’t a glimpse into our future – at least hopefully it isn’t – but it’s the premise of 2065, Frozen Light’s latest production aimed at theatregoers with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).  An original concept by Lucy Garland and Amber Onat Gregory, 2065 follows three people as they rebel against the regime and keep music alive in their hideaway, certain that one day things will change for the better. Over the course of an hour the trio introduce themselves and their bunker (with a futuristic set design courtesy of Kat Heath) and take the audience through the story, with fun, music and interaction along the way. What makes 2065 so special is that it’s a real sensory experience, with the actors using music, lighting, food and drink and even bubbles to stimulate the senses. After each scene the three actors (Lil Davis, Matt Heslop and Iona Johnson) engage with members of the audience (obeying Covid-19 safety protocols) and invite them to take part in sensory activities such as touching objects and tasting food and drink. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the show and Director Kate O’Connor has ensured this is a well-paced production, with time for audience members to fully engage with the show. Audience participation isn’t compulsory and the actors quickly move on if you’d rather just sit back and watch the show. In fact everything about 2065 is incredibly relaxed, a safe space for all to enjoy. The cast do everything possible to put audience members at ease, from greeting them before they enter the theatre, to using sign language throughout the show to communicate. It really is a relaxed performance and anything goes – when one young woman wanted to carry on dancing during my performance, the cast were only too happy to let her, and completely heart to watch.  2065 in itself is enjoyable and a real feast for the senses as the audience touch, see, feel and taste, but the real highlight is watching a show that’s a timely reminder that theatre can be – and should be – inclusive for everyone. A warm and engaging production from start to finish, 2065 is an utter joy and incredibly humbling to watch, and the cast and creative team should be commended for this beautiful show.

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