Hymns for Robots is a play about the life of Delia Derbyshire, played by Jessie Coller, the uncredited mind behind the Doctor Who theme tune and the mother of electronic music. This eccentric piece follows the equally eccentric Delia’s career and life.
Constantly engaging, absolutely hilarious and unbelievably charming Hymns for Robots is something that shouldn’t be missed.
The play explores Delia’s struggle with the conservative world she lived in and her set backs due to its sexism. Her music, dismissed by the BBC as “special sounds”, is present all the way through the piece, creating the perfect ambiance for this wacky play. Her unconventional relationships with men are also examined, including a brief unconsummated marriage and her long-term friendship with her gay best friend and collaborator, Brian Hodgson, played by Charles Craggs.
This expressionist play almost feels like a synthetic musical with the electronic music being so integral to it. Throughout the performance Craggs is creating the music, timing it perfectly to Coller’s movements.
The heightened but sincere performance by Jessie Coller is absolutely charming to behold, paired perfectly with Charles Craggs’ stoic and dead pan performance. The choreography is fantastic. Coller moves about the stage with ease and with a spontaneity that keeps the audience on their toes. Very impressively, Coller and Craggs work completely in sync, with the movements and the music timed to perfection.
The set design and lighting are well thought out. Coller’s exploration of the stage is almost like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You are so entranced by her performance, when she interacts with the stage you can’t help but wonder how you didn’t notice things there before. The set reveals itself all the time throughout the production, showing how Delia found inspiration all around her.
This play is one of a kind. Constantly engaging, absolutely hilarious and unbelievably charming, Hymns for Robots is something that shouldn’t be missed.