Review of ‘Good Day’: “Reworks can be refreshing”

The Vault Festival presents this week a new sci-fi play reflecting about the core principles of humanity. Guillermo Nazara shares his thoughts about the show, to let us know more about this piece where death is only the starting point of life.

Things can only last forever when they are fleeting. It may sound contradictory, but paradoxes are in fact what give life its true purpose and meaning. Almost since the day we are born (my memories back there are a bit hazy), we wish for our time to be eternal, and for those moments we relish on to never fade away. But writers and philosophers have already brought us the bad news more than once: we could never treasure something if we don’t fear it may go away. And at some point or another, it does – and it must.

This week, the Vault Festival is bringing a tale of acceptance and self-discovery to one of its underground (in essence) stages. Penned by Daniel Bainbridge and Cam Scriven, Good Day is a futuristic exploration of the human aim, contemplating on one of our most visceral but also questionable craves: the desire for immortality. With direction and dramaturgy by Marlie Haco, the play introduces us to an appealing and well-structured plot that, although not delivering something innovative, manages to keep a voice and style of its own – thus maintaining interest and engagement during the whole performance.

Set in a not-too-distant future happening only a few centuries apart (easy to get there if you go on keto), the show tells the story of Zara, a five-hundred-something-year-old woman that, as everyone in her era, has an attached microchip that prevents her from any sort of death. But such a total lack of danger and the fulfillment of all her longings have resulted in quite a peculiar kind of contentment: complete boredom for everything in life – including life itself. As her days fill with more tedium and aggravation, the only beacon of hope will come through the warmth and care from somebody who, however, is not meant to feel (let alone live) at all: her robot therapist, Alex.

Conceived, most probably, as an homage to Asimov’s genre-defining classics (more precisely, The Bicentennial Man), the script achieves a good balance of comedy and depth, reflecting about the human condition without falling into dullness. Such a combination allows the piece to present itself as genuine quality entertainment, and despite its storyline not being much of an eye-opener, it does succeed at making us care about what’s being told and, most importantly, who we’re being told about.

This last feat is fairly shared by a most competent cast, with both Annie Davidson as Zara and Olivia Barrowclough in the role of Alex giving a much pleasant, attention-grasping rendition. Nonetheless, the true star of the show comes as supporting this time, thanks to Sam Newton’s portrayal of Joe (Zara’s new “friend”), giving off charm and magnetism to his acting – in what almost results as a perfect blend of character and performer duality.

Staged within the limiting challenges of a small blackbox theatre, the set design (credit to Justin Nardella, along with the costumes) is, without a doubt, the other big name of this production, as its imaginative use of screens and benches to recreate both space and time period is an absolute triumph. Eventually, it transports us to the realms of a world that may have never existed but we can definitely immerse in it, thanks to its simple yet incredibly enveloping looks. Such an effect is secured by Alex Forey’s lighting, also providing with a good mixture of narrative efficiency with an obvious attention to aesthetics.

Bringing back a topic whose proximity to our reality seems closer now more than ever, Good Day is more than a warning about future dehumanization, but a cautionary tale about the automation we’ve been already going through since we let technology run our lives instead of the other way round. With compelling performances and an interesting well-paced story, this is not the kind of play you want to say “good day” to, as it justly deserves a more affectionate salute.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All pictures credit to Jake Bush.

Good Day plays at Vault Festival’s Network Theatre until 12 March. Tickets are available on the following link.

By Guillermo Nazara

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