As the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival looms ever closer, I headed to the Churchill Theatre in Bromley to catch a preview of OPIA Theatre’s Unnatural Selection – a play about a TV show of the future set to create a master race through a ‘Take Me Out’ style selection of women as partners. Four girls await their fate in the studio’s waiting room as they consider tactics and what may ultimately become of them should they not win the heart of ‘Select Me Out’s’ newest bachelor. Gender equality, feminism, relationships, trust, reality television, social media obsession and of course artificial selection are strong themes that all play importance in this hour-long play.
The concept is fantastic – as a big fan of dystopian fiction I love to see other people’s interpretations of the human race of the future. Spinning a well-known dating show into a cruel tool to forcibly pair off the best of the species is a stroke of genius and, as we find out, the brightest girls aren’t always the ones ‘selected’.
As great as the concept is, the script doesn’t always live up to expectations. There are moments of brilliance and the general plot really works as we see tensions come to a head in the metaphorically claustrophobic waiting room. I just felt that some of the dialogue was a bit sluggish. A few jokes don’t quite work for me or are seemingly obvious. Rihanna’s character was particularly garish. While that was her function, some of her lines are just too crude or random without necessarily adding to her character, although Masha Kevinovna Waring did a great job despite this.
Despite some of these setbacks, the cast is strong. All four girls are fully immersed in their characters making their differences in personality and upbringing strikingly clear. The true comedy often comes from their acting ability rather than the script. Natasha Grace Hutt in particular shows real skill as we see Bella’s fickle exterior fade and an emotional depth come through as we realise the true reasons behind her actions.
It may still need some work for me but for a relatively new theatre company taking on a difficult concept and challenging perceptions, it shows promise. As a woman, I ultimately walked away considering the outcome if this was our horrifying reality which is the mark of a good play. If you’re looking for a Fringe show with a concept to question, and something to make you think, this is the show for you.
OPIA Theatre’s Unnatural Selection will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 21st to 27th August at Chiquito, Edinburgh. Full information can be found on their website.