Minority Report, Lyric Hammersmith, 2024
Photo: Marc Brenner
  • Theatre, Drama

Minority Report

A smattering of cool setpieces can’t make up for David Haig’s blundering script in this missed opportunity stage sci-fi


Time Out says

What was great about the Lyric Hammersmith’s 2019 adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s ‘Solaris’ was that it understood that sci-fi on stage doesn’t have to mean splashy effects and cinematic thrills, that it can mostly take place in your head. 

But David Haig’s new version of Philip K Dick’s 1956 short story ‘The Minority Report’ regrettably takes the opposite tack. It feels like it’s trying to ingratiate itself to fans of the action-packed 2002 Tom Cruise-starring Spielberg adaptation, eschewing the darker, more cerebral thrills of the original story.

Although the many, many action setpieces in Max Webster’s production are accomplished,  it’s hard to see the point in most of them. Much of the show’s terse 90-minute running time is taken up with stuff like characters breaking into a building through a high window, or a cab chase, or a character with vertigo crossing over a tiny aerial walkway. But none of it really adds to the story. For all the skill that’s gone into crafting these scenes there’s not the budget there to match the lavish theatricality of shows like ‘Stranger Things: The First Shadow’ or ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, where the spectacle is so overwhelming it becomes the point.

Even more muddled is the plot. All incarnations of ‘Minority Report’ are set in a future where a ‘precrime’ department of the police has been established in order to arrest murderers before they kill. The protagonist is always named Anderton, in this case Dame Julia Anderton (Jodie McNee), the neuroscientist founder of the department.

In the book and film the precrime system is based around a trio of psychic mutants who predict murders, with the thriller plot hinging on what happens when Anderton receives a notice that they themselves are to be arrested. Here, Haig has opted to make it about a future where an AI programme predicts murders based on readings of the entire UK population fed to it via implanted brain chips that the public voted to make compulsory via referendum.

Given brain chips and behaviour-predicting algorithms are very much things being discussed in our society now, it feels right that Haig has ditched the rather more fanciful ‘psychic mutants’ premise. But his update feels maddeningly sloppy. The AI predicts things that are clearly impossible to predict without literally being able to see the future. And there’s almost zero attempt made to explore the reality of a Britain in which serious crime has been eliminated at the expense of locking up anyone who has murderous thoughts.

McNee is charismatic and intense and looks pretty cool carrying a big gun while shouting at people. Tanvi Virmani is good fun as David, a sarky personal AI. And you have to admire the efforts made with the visual effects. But ultimately ‘Minority Report’ feels like a missed opportunity. The foundations are laid to update Dick’s story into a potent parable about personal freedom in the AI era. But instead it just rattles some keys at us and hopes we’re so impressed by scenes of people climbing into windows that we overlook the actual plot. If this is the future I want no part in it.


£15-£44. Runs 1hr 30min
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