Utopia? More like Must-View-Topia!

Utopia
Adam Wollerton

Adam Wollerton

Adam is a Writer and Director of Off-West End and West End Theatre Productions. He is also the Co-Founder of Curious Tales Theatre Company and is the author of LoveStuck: A New Musical.
Adam Wollerton

Utopia

Where is Jessica Hyde? Someone, for the love of God, please answer before I get pushed off the top of a building or suffer the most horrific eye torture ever known to grace (if that word can be used…) the screens of British television. Forget Saw, the latter mentioned scene defines gruesome and is ironically one that you cannot take your eyes off!

If you haven’t been told, seen a tweet or Facebook status, or even looked at your TV guide and thought ‘Hmm… What is Utopia…?’  over the past two weeks, then you must have been living in a box. Utopia, Channel 4’s latest dark drama, definitely offers up something different for your late evening viewing on a Tuesday night.

For most of the first episode, you will find yourself thinking ‘What the heck is going on?’, but yet, you keep watching… and watching. The show is infectious and hypnotises you from the very start. You are thrown into a whirlwind of psycho-thriller madness and constantly left to wonder, with a mind full of questions, what will happen next? Who is this new character? Who is Jessica Hyde? And where the hell is she?

Utopia has a completely unique story-line, is brilliantly shot, and comes alive with the soundtrack equivalent of a Dementor’s kiss in Harry Potter. All the happiness in the room drains away and you are left with an unnerving sense of the silence around you. This, in Utopia, usually means something gut-wrenching is about to happen. Credit goes to Cristobal Tapia De Veer for his awe-inspiring work with the music.

So… what is Utopia? Well, you’ll probably drop a ‘…what?’ in a couple of words time, but Utopia is in fact a graphic novel. Yep! All the torture, the murders, and the hunting are all over a graphic novel. So, why are two guys killing and torturing people to get access to the Utopia manuscript? Nobody knows… yet… well, not in the first episode!

The question that really rings throughout this episode is ‘Where is Jessica Hyde?’ and if two weird looking guys approach you and ask this question… I hope you’re not too fond of your eyes…

However, relief is given after Jessica Hyde’s (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) appearance at the very end of the first episode, and she goes on, in episode two, to reveal that Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), Becky (Alexandra Roach) and Wilson Wilson (Adeel Akhtar) are being chased down by a sinister corporation called The Network.

When you finally come to meet Jessica Hyde, she turns out to be as weird and emotionally draining (well, of anything remotely positive…) as the programme itself. The actors in this programme are something to credit – they manage to intentionally convey a lack of emotional binding, but still create strong character personae – a real talent.

‘What is it about Utopia that is worth killing people for?’ you may ask… The manuscript itself is said to have detailed all the worst disasters to have happened in the last century within its pages. What relevance this has to our unlikely heroes is yet to be revealed, but I will be watching to find out! As will many others, I imagine, and now you. Utopia has reeled us all in.

The real genius behind Utopia is that just when you start to find some sort of stability amongst the madness of the programme, it will throw you back into the unknown with characters that you haven’t had the chance to learn so much about yet. Some comical (even though it’s hard to laugh sometimes during this programme as you’re either horrified from the previous scene or completely baffled by what just happened) scenes come in the form of a young boy’s story. He is Grant, played by Oliver Woollford. This young guy does a brilliant job, and is a real commendation and representation of the young actors out there. From smearing crap into the hand of an adult, to stabbing him in the leg with the screwdriver (even the youth of the programme are at it), Grant proves to have real gusto when he steals the Utopia manuscript from the murderers from The Network and takes to living a life on the run. Why Grant is interested in Utopia, we as viewers are unsure, but we can bet that over this series, it will slowly dawn on us why this random bunch of people are all linked together. That’s what keeps you watching – the constant questions.

Utopia is simply, in one word, incredible – a real breath of challenging-the-norm fresh air. The performances, the music, and the story are enticing, thrilling, and a definite must-view! Forget Utopia, make sure you catch Must-View-topia!

 

Follow Adam @AdamWollerton