As we descend the stairs of the WEA Adult Learning Centre, wearing headphones playing eerie background noise, there is a whiff of cooking and a slight feeling of butterflies in the stomach.
The guide leads us to an ominous-looking room lined with white tarpaulin and chairs, with no instructions given other than to sit and wait.
What comes next is a dystopian experience no one expected.
Described as a “back-to-the-future time travel experiment”, immersive theatre company Post Dining’s 2021 Fringe production Eating Tomorrow takes audiences on a whirlwind tour of what our food, customs and behaviours might become in the next 50 years.
Rest assured, in this version of the future there are no edible creepy crawlies or genetically-modified creations. Instead, the production focusses on society’s relationship to food as a form of sustenance, to shine a light on how politics and the environment may influence its availability.
The interactive set is split into four rooms titled Growth, Restraint, Catastrophe and Transformation, with each portraying a different scenario of what the future may look like. Intriguing characters engage with the audience in each room to explain the situation in which they find themselves and to present a small meal.
From the dystopian imagining of a society that is forced to barter for food with depleting water sources, to a tranquil park setting where people rely on Kaurna knowledge of sustainable and traditional eating, Eating Tomorrow leaves the audiences with mixed feelings of what is to come.
It is clear that the producers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their creation is not just imaginative, but (at times disturbingly) based on fact.
During the performance, Kaurna man Jack Buckskin explains what foods the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains have relied on for tens of thousands of years.
There are also references to contemporary issues, such as how the COVID-19 pandemic and bushfires might affect food production and availability.
The return above-ground to 2021 is marked by a drink at a non-alcoholic bar (drinks not included in ticket price) – a chance to regroup after such an unsettling but inspiring experience.
Post Dining describes Eating Tomorrow as its most experimental and daring food experience yet, and it’s hard to disagree.
Clever set design, intriguing storylines and the successful immersion of all five senses make this 2021 Fringe production one you cannot miss.
Eating Tomorrow is at the WEA Adult Learning Centre until February 28.
Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews here.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.