Like most dystopian stories, Simon Perrott’s Everybody Wants to Rule the World has a basis in reality which forces us to reflect on the issues of today. However, the execution of the premise lets the show down.
The execution of the premise lets the show down
Set in a world that is reliant on a corporation, Zamanon.com (doesn’t take a genius to solve this particular anagram), Keith (Derek Oppong) is visited by the companion AI Rupert (Radostin Radev), and tells a story about a a time in the past when he learned the truth about the society that they live in.
This show is a sitcom. A complex exaggeration of issues that we face today, a discussion, a revelation of context - absolutely nothing else happens. The play is so naturalistic that the more abstract aspects appear completely out of place as if they were wedged in as an afterthought to create some variation. At the least, these moments are missed opportunities to show us something more about the world or an opportunity for action, because otherwise we are just watching a slideshow set to music, something that gets old very quickly.
There’s a lot of information in this show, which is incredibly specific, and so it takes a lot of time to explain, meaning that there just isn’t enough time for anything else to happen. It’s understandable what Perrott is trying to do, but it just doesn’t work as an interesting piece of theatre. This show would be better as a novel, where the context could be properly explained and developed instead of simply taking the place of a narrative. There isn’t much of anything else because of this; we don’t see any action or believable character growth except in the dialogue, something that the show is overly reliant on.
The fact that the ending is definitive makes it less interesting, but this is characteristic of the rest of Perrott’s writing. There isn't a lack of information, but this means that there is no ambiguity and no opportunity for tension to build up. The only thing we don’t know is who initially sent Rupert, but even that reveal isn’t particularly surprising. The show lacks conflict and despite the fact that we know that there’s this evil corporation controlling everything, we don’t really see it happening apart from the characters telling us that it’s happening, so despite the fact that it’s meant to be a threat, it’s hard to take it as such.
Everybody Wants to Rule the World is based entirely on telling rather than showing, which reduces the play to its dialogue, making it feel incredibly long. Prescott fails to create the Orwellian nightmare that this play has the potential to be and just winds up as one of the dullest pieces of theatre imaginable, which is counter-productive if the aim is to get us to care about the issues raised.