Hymns for Robots presented by Noctium Theatre Shoebox Theatre 

Hymns for Robots tells the story of Delia Derbyshire – the mother of modern electronic music and creator of the Dr Who soundtrack.

The stage is well adorned, peppered with strung out audio tape, empty wine glasses, graphic oscillators and vintage recording equipment, and to stage right, a table covered in analogue audio production equipment, manned by Derbyshire’s professional production aid and close confidant, Brian (Charles Craggs).

Delia is played by Jessie Coller, who employs a heightened performance style entailing exaggerated expressions and movements, punctuated by live sound production courtesy of Craggs.

The impact is full-on, Coller’s mime-like makeup, overbearing RP delivery and dominant stage presence bear down on the audience (the bijou confines of the wonderful Shoebox Theatre enhanced this intimately animated show’s impact), it’s not a relaxing play, but is superbly absorbing.

As expected, the soundscape is suitably weird and wobbly, full of whirring electronic whales and whoops, paying proper homage to the pioneering work of Delia and the Beeb’s Radiophonic Workshop.

Much like the music, the story itself oscillates, but the overall portrait is finely crafted, detailing a rich and endowed life, led by a self-assured woman whose genius refused to be curtailed by the male chauvinism of the era.

Historic footage is projected on to a screen to the rear of the stage, providing additional visual depth to enrich Coller’s energetic performance and help to frame some of the historic landmarks in Derbyshire’s life, such as the Brussels World Fair where she first began to comprehend the potential of sampling a sequencing sound recordings.

Hymns for Robots is an intelligent and well-rendered tribute to a revolutionary figure in the development of modern music, who rarely gets the recognition she so thoroughly deserves. - by Joseph Theobald