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Review of Blueprints at Pleasance - Evocative, poignant and so pertinent for the AI age

Rated 🍯🍯🍯

A man and a woman sit and look at each other, both frowning slightly
Production image of Blueprints at The Pleasance Theatre. Photo credit: Alex Brenner

A heartrending exploration of the age-old question, "what if we could predict our children's future?", the play Blueprints at the Pleasance Theatre (soon heading to Edinburgh Fringe) offers a devastating critique of our age’s ceaseless quest for determinism and certainty.

The ethical dilemmas posed are highly pertinent to our technologically advancing society. Blueprints questions whether humans should unlock potential knowledge about our future offspring’s best and worst attributes, based on genetics, family history and genealogy.

The production is essentially a slow, predictably tragic descent into the breakdown of a relationship under the weight of perceived future failures. This gradual decline offers a stark commentary on human nature's tendency to remember and obsess over the bad rather than rejoice in the good.

[Minor spoilers ahead] Unfortunately, the squabbles of the lead characters turn into a persistent bickering, clouding the depth of their individual personalities. The interplay between the two lead characters leans heavily on the woman's seemingly unending critique of the man, which verges on being overbearing at times. From the outset, it feels as though she has taken on her partner as a pet project rather than a romantic interest, striving for a change that he neither sought nor needed. [Spoilers end]

While "Blueprints" commendably dips its toes into the profound ocean of ethical concerns surrounding genetic foreknowledge, the narrative dances around the edges of the topic, hinting at the potential for further exploration without delving into the complex ethical, psychological, and philosophical quandaries it raises.

Blueprints is a poignant exploration of our deepest fears and insecurities, wrapped up in a narrative that is painfully familiar yet refreshingly unique. The play falls somewhat short of perfection due to its overemphasis on character conflict, but still provides an engaging and memorable theatre experience. It leaves audiences not with answers, but with deep-seated questions about the human condition and the ethics of prediction.

Further, the performances are commendable, and the cast does an exceptional job of portraying the nuances of their characters. The inevitability of their doom under the weight of future foreknowledge lends an air of tragic inevitability to the play.

Three stars.

Watched June 2023 at The Pleasance Theatre, London. Blueprints is heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023! Catch Blueprints at Pleasance, Beneath, 17-28 August 2023.

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