In life there are things that pull on your creative heart strings and shape you life from then on. Watching Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds on TV, reading I Robot by Issac Asimov and the first issue of 2000AD, hearing Replicas by Tubeway Army and Black Celebration by Depeche Mode, witnessing Salvador Dali’s work close up and visiting the ballet for the first time are just a few artistic moments that touched me so deeply I can still remember them like they were yesterday, despite some of them being a very long time ago. Sadly as I get older the instances when I experience new art that reaches into my soul and alters it become fewer with each passing year. I was starting to worry I was getting jaded in my old age, but recently I saw a play that proved I can still be enthralled.
I wasn’t overly keen on seeing Cosmic Trigger, as it sounded a bit too “hippy” for my punk sensibilities. The punk mantra was never trust a hippy, a play about expanding your mind based on the work of the famous hippy writer Robert Anon Wilson didn’t exactly float my boat. As I sat, ready to experience a 3 hour play with trepidation, I was not prepared for just how amazing it would be. I won’t do a blow by blow exploration of the story as I would hate to spoil it and to be honest, I’m still not sure I understood all of it. What I will say is that if you get a chance, and like your theatre up close and personal, Cosmic Trigger is a must see.
It’s a cliché I know, but Cosmic Trigger is very much a rollercoaster, as you flip from laughter to tears, from understanding to bewilderment, and from yesterday to today as the piece grabs you and flings you all over time and space. You really feel as if Dr Who had a hand in writing the piece. What makes the piece mesmerizing is the cast, who go above and beyond in their duty to transport you from era to era, from reality to fantasy and back. As an actor myself, I marveled at the courage and skill of a cast whose performances made an ageing punk like me come over all hippified.
I left the Cockpit Theatre in Camden, with a very different take on a pile of subjects. I was a little troubled by this new desire to tune in and turn on, but what really touched a nerve was the play’s mantra to question everything. We live in an era where faith in those who lead us and the words of experts has been shaken to the core, but this play questions the foundation of why we might have lost faith. It asks us to go deeper than mistrust and examine everything for ourselves from the position of knowledge. Don’t let the press or media tell you what to think, and the play spends a good hour on subtly explaining how the press will say anything if it fits an agenda or brings in readers. Instead expand your knowledge through personal research and exploration. OK Robert Anton Wilson did the exploring with the aid of LSD, which we see didn’t exactly lead to rational conclusions, but the concept is good.
I think Cosmic Trigger is a play for today, despite it being so firmly based in yesterday. Never before have we needed a reason to question, and Cosmic Trigger shows the way. OK, it might be a bumpy ride, and you might get lost down the road, but in the end it will be a fun journey. You may also find yourself going all peace and love man…..
Cosmic Trigger is on at the Cockpit Theatre until May 27th
Photos © Johnathan Greet, by permission.