‘A darkly beautiful rendition of a classic dystopian novel, which hits you straight in the gut.’ The Stage
451 combines immersive sound and sensory theatre to depict a dystopic society where literature is outlawed and acts of violence are rewarded.
Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s visionary novel Fahrenheit 451, this incendiary outdoor performance recounts the story of a society in which books are banned and firemen are employed to burn them. Bradbury’s classic text has proven prophetic, reflected in the rise of the ipad, surveillance, interactive media, the televised pursuit of fugitives, and the continuing radical power of the written word.
As we witness a rise in monitoring and attacks on freedom of expression we might even believe that there could be a future where books may once again hold a secret knowledge…
Funded by Arts Council England. Built at 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space. Commissioned by Without Walls Street Arts Consortium, Brighton Festival, Greenwich & Docklands Festival, and Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
Produced in collaboration with Corn Exchange Newbury
The Times Top Ten outdoor events 2015
‘The sensory impact of this strikingly choreographed, hauntingly scored and book-blazing show hits you straight in the gut. Successfully paring the story down to its essence, Periplum reconfigures it for our thoroughly networked age. They make great use of the vertical, as helmeted enforcement officers flashing spotlights tower over us on wheeled ladders. Brutally beautiful, verse-like propagandist speeches embrace the digital encroachment of social media. This is a spectacular new pyrotechnic adaptation of Bradbury’s enduring parable about the dangers of state control. Four Stars’
Tom Wicker, The Stage
‘This was a truly enjoyable success. Brilliantly, the action takes place all around us on scaffolding and poles (the latter topped with TV aerials). The idea of burning human ideas in paper form still has huge resonance, despite our iPads and information-age technology. Bradbury’s work is a harsh tale, but tonight the hard edges were worked into a ferocious spectacular, both visually entertaining and potent.’
Thomas H Green, Arts Desk
‘A rich mix of spectacular visual imagery, stunning sound installation, and thought-provoking storytelling. A particularly beautiful and disturbing recurring motif in the show is the fluttering of book leaves in the night air. The inner voice – and the power of words (thought, written, spoken) over relentless screen images – is a crucial element of Fahrenheit 451, and that is reflected in this production.’
Dorothy Max Prior, Total Theatre
‘An epic, powerful representation of the essence of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel had audiences spellbound and silent in Newbury. The innovative outdoor theatre company makes work that is grand in both scale and aim, and this new work is no exception. It takes the journey and message of Bradbury’s dark and prophetic novel and turns it into an evocative and atmospheric visual narrative. The spectacular scale of their work never lessens the detail of the story. Packed with poignant and powerful visual imagery of oppression and freedom, this stunning piece of theatre also expertly layers text and music, both pre-recorded and performed live, alongside the energetic and passionate physical performances. Damian Wright’s sonorous and poetic writing sits in perfect harmony with Claire Raftery’s decisive and masterful physical and visual direction. The audience were captivated throughout. It is a pertinent piece, calling on us all to fight back, ignore the spin and take back the truth.’
Liz Allum, British Theatre Guide
‘Dramatic, dynamic, all-inclusive. This was Periplum’s spectacular event, 451. It was action-packed, full of pyrotechnics, audio-visually intensive – scary and stunning, successfully bringing the book into our modern world.’
Nick Davies, Newbury Weekly News
‘Enthralling Outdoor Theatre. A visually stunning piece, spectacular and intimidating’
Brighton & Hove Argus Pick of The Best, Brighton Festival Highlights
‘An absolute must-see show – captivating story telling, a poignant theme for our time, visually stunning, genuinely immersive. From the very beginning the audience is completely immersed in the world of 451. Everything feels bolder and larger than life with a combination of physical action, acrobatics, a harrowing musical score, sound scape and superbly written text. The use of real fire and pyrotechnics, with books exploding as if shot and blown apart in mid-air, pages fluttering around the crowd, creates powerful and symbolic imagery – something that is at the heart of the performance. A wonderfully provocative, visually compelling and symbolically powerful performance. Five stars’