Review: Thirteen Cycles

3 star rating
Sci-fi meets theatre in an improvised show with visuals and music that proves fun, and intermittently funny, but never reaches the orbit of the truly hilarious.
Thirteen Cycles at Rosemary Branch Theatre from Project2

Image: Project2

Closes here: Thursday 29 November 2018


Katy Schutte (improviser)

Chris Mead (improviser)

Fred Deakin - musician (and art director)


Science-fiction and theatre collide in Thirteen Cycles, where improvisation veterans Project2 (aka Katy Schutte and Chris Mead) will create a new sci-fi movie on stage every night, featuring a live soundtrack and projection-mapped interactive visuals.

Their performance might take them into the hyped operatics of Star Wars, or the more subtle psychology of Solaris … every show is different!

Each piece will feature an electronic soundtrack alongside animated graphics created on the spot by Fred Deakin (of Lemon Jelly), creating a completely unique show blending technology and theatre into an innovative emotional experience.

ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 15 November 2018
Review star rating image

At the beginning of this show, the audience is asked to shout out some topics based on the theme of science-fiction.

A spaceship repair garage finds favour with the two actor improvisers - Katy Shutte and Chris Mead - and we're off to the far reaches of some galaxy or universe or other, maybe our own.

Fortunately, though, the actors do speak English for the duration, so there's not much to miss in terms of the dialogue at least.

Given that this show is based on improvisation, it's more than likely that you'll see a different version if you venture out to see it.

I suspect, though, that there is a skeleton plot which the cast improvise around, though how much of the show is actually made up on the spot is difficult to tell.

It certainly seems like the dialogue - or at least the major portion of it, is made up on the spot and that, of course, is the source of a lot of the humour.

But that's only part of the conceptual framework for this piece that fuses music and projected visuals into the improvised mix as the actors develop the story.

Thirteen Cycles at the Rosemary Branch Theatre

Katy Schutte (left) and Chris Mead - photo (c) Guillaume Querard

We do indeed start in the spaceship repair shop where Katy Schutte is grandad and Chris Mead is his (her) grandson whose ambitions stretch to becoming a spaceship pilot.

We return to that scene after detours to a prison where Ms Schutte is incarcerated for ("allegedly") stabbing a man to death - though she readily admits to Mr Mead's helpful guard that she did indeed commit the crime.

And we also find one of the richest women in the world in another scene that seemed slightly out of kilter with the others.

Of course in this kind of show, there's no real necessity for all the constituent parts of the storyline to hang together totally realistically, so fragmentation doesn't really spoil the essential fun of the piece.

As the scenes unfold, we find Fred Deakin's musical contributions adding inventively to the action and dialogue, and there's some nicely layered echo that boosts the atmospheric quality.

Also on display are almost continuous visuals - mostly brick-like shapes that drift over the entire set as well as the actors.

In fact, there's a small army of technical creatives involved in the show who, presumably, are responsible for the graphic animations.

Though they lend an air of novelty and a touch of the unreal and bizarre, the visuals don't really add much to the overall depth or tone of the piece, and at times they are a little distracting.

Katy Schutte and Chris Mead keep the enterprise flowing pretty well, developing some neat ideas particularly in mimicking the sounds of machines that supposedly do heavy-lifting in sci-fi type movies.

And their dialogue, though sometimes colliding like the plethora of media on offer, does contain fun and funny moments, even if it's not consistently humorous throughout, and never quite reaches the orbit of the truly hilarious.

ActDrop listing for Rosemary Branch Theatre
Our show listing for Thirteen Cycles
Read our reviews' policy

Book tickets for ...

Buy tickets for The Son at the Duke of York's Theatre