No Planet B - The History Of The World Backwards, Tricycle Theatre, London
Thursday 06 July 2006
In No Planet B Newman's idea to run history backwards, while human lives go forwards as per normal, appears to offer the opportunity to marry chronological facts with punchlines. In this parallel universe North American Indians ethnically-cleanse white Americans by 1492 and Nelson Mandela goes into prison as a Spice Girls fan and comes out an activist.
Tonight the songs are plentiful but sombre in tone and often the lyrics, delivered in a monotone, are drowned out by Newman's treasured ukelele. Even his mimics seem a little off, such as his Paul McCartney who, (surprise) retells history to diminish John Lennon's influence on The Beatles.
The major recurring theme of No Planet B is a love story between John and Patches, a couple torn apart by the Second World War and then the Spanish Civil War, in that order. While this is rather sentimental, far less so is the impending Ice Age, an obvious mirror to the environmental carnage that starts the story in 2006. In between the two climactic crises Newman sometimes rights a number of wrongs (as he sees them): for instance, Britain overthrows the Shah in Iran to institute democracy.
Elsewhere, however, own goals are scored, such as when the Suffragette movement relinquishes the right to vote, marching under banners with "You decide for both of us, dear" written on them. Throughout there's is a feeling of a nostalgic Luddism. Newman gleefully invokes a technological collapse: inventions become uninvented, the last oil well is sealed, supermarkets disappear, and polluting air travel declines.
In one of the more playful sequences, Newman portrays Mozart unveiling Don Giovanni as influnced by Orange Juice's hit, "Rip It Up [and start again]". I can't help thinking how appropriate those words are.
Until 15 July (020-7328 1000)
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Skrillex and Diplo's 24-hour DJ set shut down by police after 18 hours
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'