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Someone walks past an operations desk and opens a fire exit to meet Adam Welsh as he returns home from Prague. It is us, the audience members – or a physical stand in for us. As we meet Adam, it immediately feels quite intimate; he exudes a feeling of happy welcoming. We follow him back through the stage doors to his recording seat and the show begins.
To start off with, the show is quite classically artistic: grainy shots of city life accompanied by music that journeys from ethereal to disconcerting to tense and unnerving, with an undercurrent of THE DOUBLE’s poetic musings.
However, as promised, No Future is a multi-dimensional project. It is more than just videoed footage; it is an amalgamation of filmed theatre, traditional filmmaking and cinematography, recorded conversations, photography, and even some embroidery.
It can feel odd to talk about staging when discussing filmed performances, but the staging and lighting in the piece is absolutely gorgeous. Neil Brinkworth’s design combines so harmoniously with Timothy Trimingham Lee’s direction and Ian William Galloway’s cinematography and I find the occasional moments where we, as an audience, wander through the set just stunningly presented.
As the show progresses, the intimacy established in the early moments often crosses the line into intrusion. While we accompany Adam as he deals with the aftermath of the burglary around which the show revolves, it increasingly feels as though we should allow Adam his personal space. (Of course, we don’t.) And by the end of the show, I’m expecting a conclusion of sorts. But what we are given is not what I expect. It’s unsatisfying, in a way. Intentionally, I would imagine.
There is a plethora of unanswered questions and untied ends. An open-ended personal foray: a journal entry more than a finished novel. As a whole, the show feels almost intrinsically clever without being pretentious about its own cleverness: meaningful, even though I know that I’m not grasping its full meaning. It is a real feat of collaboration between Welsh, his inspirations, the creative team, and the other contributing artists of No Future. The show is all about Adam (the character) and is very much an experience of Welsh’s (the person); it feels as though it would happen with or without an audience. But to be granted admission to experience this little slice of Welsh’s private life is an honour.
No Future is a product of one of Camden People’s Theatre’s four Outside the Box commissions, and will be streaming on demand until 20 May 2021. For more information and tickets, see Camden People’s Theatre online.