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Issue 1778
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Perfectly Executed Drama

Robert Boulton’s new dark sci-fi drama is a familiar story with sensational style.

Photo: The Dissident Theatre Company


in Issue 1778



★ ★ ★ ★
The Old Red Lion Theatre
Until the 16th October 2021
Student tickets from £14

This play is billed as “The Dumb Waiter meets Black Mirror” and, well… that’s exactly what you get. The stylisation, lighting, sound, tone, and plot are all heavily influenced by Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi television series (check out Hated in the Nation from the third series of Black Mirror for example). But this isn’t exactly a bad thing. The lights come up on a semi-naked white dude, Tony (Henry Davis), who has–until now–been sleeping deeply in a bed centre stage. Tony is clearly in a hotel room, with the remnants of a sexual liaison the night before littered around the bed; and, as he wakes up and takes a phone call, we also learn that he is posh, married, and, to use his later words, a bit of a c*nt. Enter Sarah (Niamh Finlay) and Marcus (Robert Boulton) to help remedy that fact with a live trial by social media.

Photo: The Dissident Theatre Company
Niamh Finlay and Henry Davis in Snowflakes

There is something very satisfying about the perfect execution of a simple idea. This play explores justice and revenge through the torture and forced interviewing of an alleged sex criminal. Everything in this play seems to be blunt, on-the-nose, and unapologetic. The likes and thumbs-up from the livestream are projected onto an actual black mirror. But, and this is the key point, everything seemed to work as it should. The audience is trapped in the room in the same way Tony is. The door is shut and, as the tag line of the play reads, “the door stays locked until the job is done”. The dialogue between the characters is uncompromising in its depiction of morality and ideology in the post-internet age, and Tony’s monologue about truth rings… true?

This play explores justice and revenge through the torture and forced interviewing of an alleged sex criminal.

If you are familiar with any of the works mentioned above, then you already know how this play is going to go. The techno-dystopian stylisation works incredibly well in a theatre setting, and the main cast deliver in spades (or shovels). Boulton’s performance as Marcus was energetic, scarily believable, and thrilling and harrowing in equal measure — this is perhaps to be expected given that he also wrote the play. That being said, the narrative is well balanced, and Davis and Finlay seem just as present. All three performers find depth and nuance in characters that require a lot of range.

Photo: The Dissident Theatre Company
Snowflakes is perfectly executed drama.

I am undecided on if this play really brings anything new to the discussion on “snowflakes” and cancel culture, but one thing is for sure, I enjoyed the experience a lot. The crispness, clear theme, and undeniably sensational cast won me over. These aspects coalesced into a coherent and sharp production that can only be attributed to the overall direction (Michael Cottrell). This play is the debut production from the Dissident Theatre Company, and I am excited to see what comes next! Snowflakes is certainly a play for any sci-fi fan with a dark side and it definitely gets my recommendation.

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