MINORITY REPORT

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By David Haig based on the short story by Philip K Dick
Nottingham Playhouse

Think sci-fi isn’t your thing? Well, you may think it’s out of this world if you watch Minority Report.

Stage and screen actor David Haig is primarily known as a writer of My Boy Jack, his play about Rudyard Kipling’s unswerving determination to get his son enlisted in the army just before the start of World War I, and Pressure, his 2014 play focusing on the weather forecasts that determined the date of the D-Day landings.

Simon Friend of Simon Friend Entertainment which is co-producing Minority Report was a fan of Pressure and asked Haig if he would be interested in writing a sci-fi thriller based on Philip K Dick’s 1956 novella.

Tanvi Virmani (David) and Jodie McNee (Julia). Above: Roseanna Frascona (Ana) and Jodie McNee (Julia) [images: Marc Brenner]

In the original story three mutants foresee all crime before it occurs. Plugged into a great machine, these “precogs” allow a division of the police called Precrime to arrest suspects before they can commit any actual crimes.

Dick’s estate was “incredibly generous”, according to Haig, and allowed him complete freedom to write exactly what he wanted for the stage version as long as he kept the title and basic premise of Precrime. The result is one of the most astonishing pieces of theatre I’ve seen for a long time.

Set in 2050, Minority Report features a world in which everyone has a chip implanted behind the ear so that brains can be monitored and crimes are wiped out. It means people live in happy times: children can play on the streets, women can walk home alone at night and there’s no need for people to lock their doors.

Unlike the original, Haig has changed the lead character into a woman. A report discloses the unimaginable: that the head of Precrime, Julia Anderton, will commit murder. Does she kill? Has the technology got it wrong? In real time, 90 minutes without an interval, the play looks at Julia’s journey as she tries to extricate herself from her incredible plight.

Haig’s script rattles along at breakneck speed, letting up only to detail the emotional stories of some of the characters.

The cast of Minority Report

The playwright admits he wrote whatever came into his head. It was up to director Max Webster, whose previous successes include Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Life of Pi, and the design team to say whether the stage directions could be brought to life. They have done an excellent job to portray a futuristic world of driverless taxis, secret computer systems and a detention centre housing those arrested before they committed a crime.

A cast of nine is led by Jodie McNee who is sensational as Julia. She transforms from the strong-willed neuroscientist who is driven by a desire for revenge for a personal tragedy into a vulnerable absconder who has to decide whether Precrime’s existence is justified. It’s a captivating and potentially an award-winning performance.

Nicholas Rowe also catches the eye as self-serving politician Ralph, as does Tanvi Virmani, Julia’s “voice companion” David, looking like an automaton but with an engaging, charming personality.

Minority Report, with its unsettling themes, dazzling lights and thunderous music, is in some ways a disturbing spectacle. But it’s also a thrilling work which grips you from start to finish. It’s not far-fetched – it’s  fanciful and fantastic at the same time.

* This review originally appeared on the British Theatre Guide website

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