Yet another big idea at the Dome, and it's all still up in the air

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The Independent Online
THE PREVIEW was billed as the blend of a football match, a carnival and a rock concert. With the modesty for which they are now renowned, the organisers of the Millennium Dome said it would be the "most exciting show anywhere on earth in the year 2000".

Six days before tickets for the Dome are due to go on sale, the planners revealed a brief glimpse of the 30-minute show that will play in the central arena three times a day to an expected audience of 36,000.

With a background of pulsating music, composed by the rock musician Peter Gabriel, a cast of 160 dancers, acrobats and trapeze artists writhed around on ropes high in the air, and swung off a giant hanging mobile. They have been rehearsing in a high-ceilinged building in Bow, east London, for the past year.

The arena in the centre of the Dome is the size of Trafalgar Square but most of the performance will be 150 feet up, using 55ft-long mobiles. They will appear as darting dragon flies and sinister flying machines, swooping and turning in the rooftops. The story traces the history of mankind and opens with a none too subtle reference to the Garden of Eden, where the Earth people are tilling the land and living an idyllic life unencumbered by technology.

But their world is shattered after an earthquake when the Sky people hurtle down to teach them modern technology. The theme moves swiftly on from the age of innocence to the industrial era. But industrialisation gives birth to unrest and the Earth people and Sky people start to fight. A giant tower, which symbolises the age of technology, is attacked and a series of flags with graffiti from the Berlin Wall is hauled up its sides.

As in all good tales there must be a love story and, against a background of war, Sky Boy falls for Earth Girl.

Finally, the two tribes realise they would be better off working together and harnessing the best of the natural world with the best of technology. In a final cliche, a child is born to symbolise their new optimism and the birth of the future. The show is directed by Mark Fisher, an architect who has designed sets for U2, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.

He said he had drawn on influences ranging from William Blake to the hippy culture when creating the show. "We are pushing the boundaries of what has been done before and that's exciting."

Peter Gabriel said: "We wanted the show to be about the past, present and future and it is the story of eternal conflict within three generations of a family and the great changes that are going on around them."

He said the audience would take what they wanted from the show. While some would find a lot of biblical imagery, others would find a more secular tale. "The message is that our social, technical and personal experiences go in cycles and we can have confidence in the future."

The other message is, of course, that the girl always gets her man.