A new musical entitled “The Assassination of Katie Hopkins” that opened at Theatr Clwyd in North Wales has won the UK Theatre Award for best Musical Production 2018.
The piece was directed by James Grieve with words by Chris Bush and music by Matt Winkworth and holds up a mirror to our society and the way in which we engage with events via social media.
The design reflects this context: Lucy Osborne’s design is composed of surfaces that are designed to be constantly brought to life by video. Nina, who created the video design, worked closely with Lucy throughout and alongside video engineer Harrison Cooke to realise the vision to enable the design to function as desired.
The main component of the set is two sliding walls made up of over 2,000 ‘mobile phone’ units, each with a pair of LED lights inside. The LEDs have been mapped to form a low resolution video wall that is used to great effect for video content as well as being reactive to sound and motion with the use of the newly released Catalyst v6 media server with integrated VideoDust that hit the market during rehearsals for the show.
The walls were also designed to take projection as a whole with two sections that are gauze-covered that allow more detailed imagery to be used but that remain fairly invisible when not in use. Multiple live feed cameras and an iPhone are used to relate live action on stage and overlaid with lookalike TV branding and google searches, recording apps and title cards lend a feeling of verbatim or found evidence to this fictional narrative. This is combined seamlessly with the lower resolution textures and imagery that runs through the LED pixels within the phones resulting in a multi-layered video design that can both dazzle and overpower as well as bring moments of serenity or solemnity. Oliver Fenwick’s lighting adds another layer with his sensitive and dynamic design and makes great use of the cyc with coloured light that highlights the semi-transparent nature of the walls to great effect.
The groundbreaking approach to the use of technology within a theatrical setting is echoed in every area of the production and responds directly to the script and music- David White and Dominic Kennedy have orchestrated and produced the score to include the familiar sounds of computer and phone alerts in a remarkable and seamless way – Nevertheless the piece retains emotional integrity and presents a pressing discourse for out times.
The staging – with direction from James Grieve – is exemplary. Winkworth’s score, by turns playful and plangent, takes its cue from the bleeps and pings of our digital-dependent life and it’s answered by a brilliantly whizzy design: walls of pulsating, colour-shifting LEDs augmented by live projections, serious news-feeds and silly emojis included (hats off to Lucy Osborne, Oliver Fenwick and especially Nina Dunn).
Dominic Cavendish for the Telegraph
Lucy Osborne’s set, consisting of two large sliding screens composed of little iPhone-size panels that light up, is also ingenious.
Natasha Tripney – The Stage
Jafar Iqubal – WhatsOnStage
★★★★ – Dominic Maxwell – The Times
Video equipment hires were supplied by Blue-i Theatre Technology.
The show runs at Theatr Clwyd until 12th May. For more information and full credits, visit: https://www.theatrclwyd.com/en/whats-on/the-assassination-of-katie-hopkins/