Concept for a Film

Second Body
Assembly George Square Studios

Max Barton Credit: Lewis Palfrey
Jethro Cooke and the sensory mycelium synth Credit: Lewis Palfrey

In possibly the most difficult to find venue at Assembly George Square, which is likely the reason for the stream of people coming in late during the first ten minutes, Second Body has staged an unusual piece combining the mysteries of fungus with the vast and reaching effects and benefits of their mycelial mass lifeforms and their networks; and combined it with the writing and staging of a film screenplay.

Concept For a Film, as the title implies, is told from the perspective of Max Barton, who carries the audience through his pitch for a hero’s journey story set against a fungi-based apocalypse, while Jethro Cooke quietly builds and manipulates an ever-growing web of USB cables and circuits, which manipulate an audience hum into music and effects.

It’s as much a didactic lecture on fungi and the complexity of nature’s delicate balance of interconnected symbiotic species as it is a means of Barton delving into his own feelings on a difficult personal life situation.

While this is an inventive and often fun piece of theatre, in many ways it feels like the sort of shows that used to swamp the Free Fringe, as newly graduated students with little cash but an idea and some inventive lighting and audio effects would tell a simple autobiographical story. This admittedly is more technically adept than most, but the tale itself and the film concept never quite feel that well thought out, occasionally veering thematically too close to M Night Shyamalan’s woefully misjudged The Happening or Ben Wheatley’s tonally confused In the Earth.

Second Body has shown that it has the ability to weave fantastic tales and imbue them with personal facets, such as in the recent piece Styx, but this just doesn’t quite ever reach above the parapet of ambitious novelty. Entertaining, touching at times and informative, but if you’ve read or seen any of the recent books and documentaries on the kingdoms of fungi, you’ll find this to be similar ground.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan

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