Here at York, the courses within the Department of Theatre, Film and Television love to collaborate with one another. The department’s student theatre company Platform has joined forces with the film and television production students to produce On Ego. The show, written by writer Mick Gordon and neuropsychologist Paul Broks, is a powerful theatrical debate on how the brain creates a sense of self and identity and questions whether it’s really possible to reconstruct it.

The play follows Alex (Oliver Henn), a lecturer in neuroscience, and his senior lecturer Derek (Harry Whittaker) as they talk to students about the concept of replicating a person’s identity. They bring out a button, and say that pushing the button will allow you to travel anywhere you want, and will map out all of your neurons and emotional impulses exactly as they are now. Sounds good, right? There is, however, a catch: once you press the button your current body is destroyed, only to be replaced by the new one at your desired location. While the success rate of the experiment is generally fairly high, there have often been what Derek calls ‘complications’ in the past, and it’s during On Ego that we see such a complication. Alex pushes the button so he can quickly return to his dying wife (Yoshika Colwell), but after pressing it, Derek informs him that something extraordinary has happened: Alex has been duplicated. That sounds pretty cool, but in reality, Alex can’t live two lives, and so begins a devastating expose of what it means to be human and alive as Alex races to see his wife once more, damning the traumatising consequences in the process.

On Ego is pretty head-mashing stuff. The narrative itself is gripping, and the performances are fantastic from the three leads. Each of them taps into the unique emotional impulses of their character to create a varied, enjoyable performance throughout. There are beautiful moments of tension dotted throughout the piece, and the lighting and sound come together nicely to emphasise them and the characters. The use of projections in the background also adds an interesting aesthetic and dynamic to the production, and provides a unique sense of substance.

My only gripe with the performance is that, while the narrative is gripping, stuff got a little more confusing towards the end. I couldn’t tell what locations we were being taken to, or which Alex was the ‘real’ one. Perhaps this was, however, a deliberate artistic decision, and helps to leave you thinking long after the sonic soundscape evaporates from the atmosphere.

On Ego is a fantastic piece of theatre, and addresses real scientific issues that we’re still investigating today. It demonstrates the strength and attention to detail that Platform Theatre Company possesses, as well as the success generated from the art of collaboration between two entertainment forms. It’s thought-provoking, engaging and incredibly relevant.

On Ego is at the Black Box Theatre at the University of York until 7 February. For more information and tickets, see the University of York Department of Theatre, Film and Television website.