Four management consultants have been given 90 minutes to work out if they’re saving the world, being tested by their superiors or designing the blueprints for the next holocaust in Ideation, a boardroom thriller playing at The Forge at The Court Theatre this June.
The Forge is The Court’s studio theatre and will be opening its doors to audiences for the first time this year with Ideation: an icy thriller that is the Black Mirror of contemporary theatre.
The story follows Hannah, Brock, Ted and Sandeep as they try to find a solution to their latest assignment: a hypothetical disease outbreak that begins to look less and less hypothetical and more and more like a plan for a future genocide.
As the tension in the room reaches boiling point, the team begin to turn on each other as they struggle to identify what it is they’re being asked to do – and who knows what.
Dan Bain is the director for the show as well as the Associate Director at The Court, responsible for programming and overseeing productions at The Forge. For him, the rampant paranoia within the story is what makes it so thrilling to watch.
After reading the script last year, Bain wasn’t sure if The Court would programme the show, but pushed for it to be included in the 2018 Forge season.
“Last year when I was programming I read something like twelve scripts in two days. I would read about fifteen pages of a script to see, ‘is this even close to what we’re looking for?’ And in that time, I read Ideation – I read all of Ideation. It wasn’t at all what we were looking for, but I had to know what happened. I didn’t think we would put it on, but I kept nudging it and managed to get it programmed, which is quite exciting.”
Bain’s excitement comes from never seen anything like Ideation at The Court Theatre before.
“Huge chunks of Ideation are just really articulate, clever people arguing their case. The constant clash that exists within it is really fascinating to watch.”
The bulk of the play is very fast, very clever conversations being had around a whiteboard and table, which means there are a lot of lines to be learnt and performed – and quickly.
“It’s formula one style theatre. Not only is it an entertaining thought experiment and a fun observation of extreme characters, but it’s also a massive feat that you’re watching on behalf of the actors.”
The actors taking on the challenge include former on-screen Shortland Street couple Laura Hill and Roy Snow as Hannah and Brock respectively, Adam Brookfield as Ted and, making their debuts at The Court Theatre, Shaan Kesha as Sandeep and John Armstrong as Scooter.
Despite the verbose nature of the script and the singular setting, Bain and his team have been working hard to make sure the story isn’t just a ‘four-people-sit-around-a-table’ play.
Gathering inspiration from his own experience ideating, Bain has the characters moving throughout the set, which has been cleverly designed in the shape of a ‘T’ - meaning the audience sit around the stage, rather than just in-front of it.
That’s not his only trick, with the use of a very special kind of whiteboard.
“Rather than just using a giant whiteboard we’re using a series of mirrors. So, you can actually see the play from all four angles if you look at the reflection of what’s happening in the mirror.”
Besides seeing the actors slowly dissolve into paranoia, audiences will also be facing themselves in the mirrors; a reflection of the very humanity the team are discussing the disposal of.
For those looking for entertainment that keeps them on the edge of their seat, they’ll find it in Ideation.
“If you like to come out for a romp, it’s not a romp. But it’s a good night out – it’ll make you think. It’ll appeal to people who have a love of conspiracy and a love of letting their paranoia run wild. It’s also important to point out that it’s not just this cold, intellectual exercise. The whole thing is underpinned by the relationships between the five-characters and the humanity of them all.”
“My hope is that people will leave going, ‘I would have done this,’ and the person they went to the theatre with will go, ‘are you insane? I would do this!’ Because as a play that at its core is a debate, I think its job is to spur further debate.”
Unlike the answer, the question audiences will be left with after seeing Ideation is clear - what would you do with all the bodies?