Intronauts at Tobacco Factory Theatre
Green Ginger’s Intronauts is a small but perfectly formed piece of theatre, beautifully designed and executed. There are just three people on stage, playing two characters and animating puppets. It’s visually very pleasing, with images and patterns projected onto a mesh screen stretched across the front of the stage providing the ‘background’, information and effects. It’s a lovely bit of technical wizardry that allows us both a perfect view of the on-stage action when clear but also plunges us into different environments and at times gives 3D immersive effects, which are quite disorientating. The Green Ginger team should be very, very proud of themselves for producing this visually stunning show.
The story is simple although I found that I came out with more questions than answers. There is a man; presumably a logo designer, unable to dance and with itchy body parts. He has a cleaner in – quite literally in. Inside his body is a tiny, tiny ‘pod’, reminiscent of a deep sea exploration vessel, and in this pod is the cleaner who goes where the man tells her to and cleans his body from the inside. Itchy anus – sorted. Throat needs clearing – she’s on it. They communicate via an interface which lets him see where she is and her respond to his demands on call. We don’t know how she came to be there – in the physical or psychological sense – but at one point she cries out ‘I’m human!’ and at another we find her bribed to do something she shouldn’t for triple pay, implying (I hope!) that she is not trapped in there forever.
It’s not a nice environment. When we see the world on his scale it’s clean, with voice commanded computers and nice interfaces, while on her scale she is stuck in the pod’s small and messy living space with mechanical cleaning arms on the outside that don’t work as they should. She can come out of this pod, and does, fully suited and helmetted but with obvious reluctance and apprehension. Outside the pod are immune cells, waiting to entangle or engulf her, and wild currents of movement. When we shift scale again it’s to a puppet pod and person, with the projected scenes illustrating how small and vulnerable she is in there, with liquid currents dragging her around and danger in all directions. The physical acting, like the puppetry, is exquisite, from her wild freestyle dancing to his attempts at the first few steps of a tango, and her collapse to the floor on return from a trip outside the pod is amazingly eloquent.
The only thing I found frustrating about this show comes from me, not it: I wanted more, I wanted to know the processes by which she found herself having to take that job (assuming that’s what it was) and how she was physically changed. I wanted to know if the events of the final scenes made a difference, whether he was left permanently changed for good or bad and what happened to her next. I guess that means it’s achieved its purpose, it’s got into my head and it’s making me think about the what-ifs and whos and whys.
Like I said, it’s a perfectly formed small piece of theatre in every way. It’s well worth a look.
Intronauts shows at Tobacco Factory‘s Spielman Theatre until 31st March
Image by Mark Dawson, with thanks