Max, who is taking part in our Arts Training Scheme, reviews Flux.
Set in the mid-1980s, Kate is seeking to become a world-renowned scientist in a male dominated world. Kate has had this aspiration since childhood and during the show the audience is allowed into a 3-month period of her life, with all its trials and tribulations.
On first inspection, the set looks like white glowing Tetris cubes on wheels, but in fact doubles up as screens, office furniture and even a toaster. The set was transformed into Kate’s flat, her place of work and Gertie’s music shop. The eighties score by Stornoway’s Jon Ouin is great, and uses synths and awkward dance moves to really evoke a sense of the era.
Kate is a life-size puppet managed by three of the Smoking Apples group, two holding her torso, head, arms and hands, and the third moving her legs and feet also she can walk around the set. The synchronisation between the performers is a delicate and at times slow operation. Additional to this is the fact that Kate does not speak, as she interacts with her environment through muted (but very animated) mumbles. To aid with the telling of the snapshot into Kate’s life, diary entries are spoken aloud via voiceover to give a better understanding of events. This is necessary because if left with only mumbles, following the story would prove difficult for the audience.
Kate’s work life is successful, but she does find herself daydreaming about her lofty ambitions and ultimately becomes distracted by a love interest outside of work. The theoretical work Kate does ends up becoming a reality, which causes her great distress and leads her to make a significant decision about her life and career.
Flux is a very detailed and intricate story in both its technicality and its content. It gives an insight into what it may have been like to have been a female scientist in the 80s – and even now, perhaps – but also of how the day-to-day of ground-breaking scientific work can sometimes be mundane and mediocre. The show is not a fast-paced affair, but is of very high quality.