Laurence Wilson
The Dukes, Lancaster and Preston Guild 2012
The Guild Hall, Preston

Cast members of Metropolis Credit: Mike Wilson [email protected]

As part of the North West Closing Celebration for London 2012 at Preston Guild Hall, the young people of Lancashire performed Metropolis, their view of the world as it could be in not so distant 2052.

The world’s economy and environment is in tatters, the major cities have been lost to disasters and Preston is a giant metropolis. Society is split into three distinct layers, the Fleas do the menial jobs, the Joes work in the factories and the Elite float above the Joes and Fleas and have very little contact with them. Preston Guild has been driven underground and acts as a beacon of hope, the police have been privatized, replaced by a private security company, and keep order using fear and violence.

Two more groups also emerge, the Shadows, a group of Illuminati figures who manipulate the ordinary citizens, and the Visionaries who want to set the population free and tear down the system.

As the audience took its place in the cavernous Guild Hall, the cast slowly moved around the upper level and the band started to play in its eyrie above the stage. The upper level auditorium curtains were then closed and the Fleas took their places in the spaces below the stage, the Joes started their hard manual labour and the Elite isolated themselves in their pristine upper world and communicated with other by message and mind.

The cast of 72 talented actors, dancers and musicians worked well together with great enthusiasm and skill, the buzz was amazing, these guys were really enjoying themselves. The storyline was simple and hopeful: good will out and oppression will be overcome by the will of the people as the visionaries within society show new ways to think, work and communicate. Working together the people can overcome greed and overturn the established norms. Unfortunately they cannot overcome the poor acoustics of the Guild Hall and even though I was on the front row I missed much of the dialogue, as did the person sitting next to me.

This was a joint production by Preston Guild 2012 and The Dukes, Lancaster with involvement from Preston College. The piece was devised, improvised and written by the cast and brought into fulfillment by writer Laurence Wilson, directed by Louie Ingham along with the Dukes Creative Learning Director as Creative Producer. The Guild Hall was used fully with action focused on the stage but stairs and peripheral areas were also brought into play. Costumes, lighting and make-up were very effective and complemented the energy and sheer verve of the cast.

2052 is only two more Preston Guilds away. Will this Wellsian view of the future come about or will these young people see their way to making the changes?

Reviewer: Denis W McGeary

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