I recently had the opportunity to watch Pluto at the barbican in London! Pluto is an adaptation from Astro boy, one of the early anime’s, and is about a certain part of the show or the books about Pluto. I really liked it and would recommend, if not for the fact that the show’s not running anymore. It was only out from 8-10th of February so you’ve almost definitely missed it, it was a time of the moment thing and I was glad I was able to show up.
Theatre productions are pretty rare occurrences for me because I would never think to go there but I think it’s because of this rarity that production companies ensure as high a quality possible for their performances so that people will want to go again, and this was no exception.
One pleasant surprise I found was that the whole thing was in Japanese, which worked to the shows benefit in my opinion; it just added another layer of interest to me. All productions have interesting set designs to transition between locations seamlessly but the way they implemented subtitles was really interesting. A projector would shine the words on to many different backdrops and parts of the stage so you would always know what was going on. Due to the fact that they already used a computer for the words they were able to have animations across screens as well, including comic book pictures and small gifs. These were really cool!
I’ve not seen any of Astro Boy really but I found the story really interesting. All of the strongest robots in the world were killed and only two remain, they travel on a quest (kind of) to try and discover what’s going on and stop the evil robot Pluto from taking over the world. It’s a simple plot but there are a lot of more interesting things in the story.
There are a lot of philosophical questions about robots and ai brought forward into question as well as dark themes of loneliness, rejection and hate. It just goes to show the creator Osamu Tezuka’s perfect robot ai was the only robot who could ever kill just what he thinks about humanity and it’s a joy to watch.
Each robot is accompanied by dancers who follow them around, showing every mechanical movement of the robots, I didn’t actually like this a whole lot as they sometimes got in the way. Another problem might have been the subtitles which made it difficult to focus on the action at times.
Still it was an entertaining story and I loved the way they used the robot puppets to brilliant effect. Being on a stage watching in person isn’t immersive because you know you’re watching a play, that’s why the puppets work so well. Instead of focussing on immersion they focus on believability and functionality so that the robots movements often feel genuine.
I got a program of everything that happened (the pictures on here are probably photographs from there)
So if you have any way of watching this at all I recommend you do!
Here’s a bit of a slideshow of what I saw!