’13’ by Mike Bartlett – Official Season Launch

Brought to you by director Peta Downes is this adaption of Mike Bartlett’s ‘13’, which will be showing next month. I was lucky enough to sit in on the launch party, where the team behind the production talked about the story, set, and methods that have gone into it.

The play depicts a parallel London, where amongst riots and economic failure, people are experiencing the same dream at night.  It is a place of decadence and waste. A young man named John (played by Daniel Hickey) returns to this metropolis of cacophony with a vision of the future, but who will listen?


The creative team has put a lot of work into the production to make the costume, props and music all reinforce the atmosphere and themes. The scenes are filled with grunge, rock, and discordant drones as people clad in drab clothing languish amidst the collapse of society. The only place in the city that has any brightness and hope to it is wherever John is.

The characters are likened to a cluster of coral, drifting together aimlessly but sometimes birthing what could become an ally or enemy.  Four of these characters, named Rachel, Ruth, Ruby, and Sarah, will be operating on a rotation. Different actors depending on the session will portray them. This raises questions on the kind of role these characters fill and what changes to context the different actors will bring to their scenes, but I’m as in the dark as you are.

Attention was brought to a specific prop—a mysterious black cube and the dominating presence it has in the scenes involving it. The crew didn’t want to give away too much, but the cube was associated to such technology as blackberries, ipads, and laptops, devices that act as ‘black boxes’ for the lives of their users.

A key phrase that was brought up is ‘vox populi, vox dei’ “the voice of the people is the voice of god” along with the question ‘what, then, if the people are mad?’ and indeed the London of 13 looks very much to be in the grip of a mad god. The people experience connectivity with communication, but not humanity. At the climax of the presentation was footage of people in sterile white rooms, laughing and crying hysterically intersped with scenes of riots, civil violence, and domestic terrorism.

John is a messianic figure, and his story revolves around ideas of gathering and following. A significant portion of human history is based on followings, not just of rulers of nations but also of teachers, celebrities, and even more abstract things like fashion, popular opinion, culture and counter culture. While I was assured John is not meant to be the biblical Jesus, his role in the play invites the question ‘if Jesus came back today, exactly who would care?’

There will be ten performances in total, running from July 22nd to July 29th. Students and teachers get in free. Performances will be held at the Pilgrim Theatre on Pitt St. Tickets can be booked here.

For those interested in finding out more about this production of 13, an information kit will be available on aimdramaticarts.com as of Monday, July 6th.


Benjamin Dempsey is a Syndey based writer. A ravenous consumer and creator of media, with a passion for speculative fiction. He primarily deals with themes of the occult, transhumanism, and mythology.

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