Review: MK Ultra at Birmingham Hippodrome

by Dave Massey

MK Ultra at Birmingham Hippodrome

I’m starting to get into this dance/physical theatre lark a bit more, so I went to see Rosie Kay’s MK Ultra yesterday.

A throne sits slanted on a pedestal and the floor is distorted mirror, there’s a triangle on the rear wall and a blinking eye at the top of it. I half expected Bohemian Rhapsody to play next. “Is this the real life or is this just fantasy”. Instead we were introduced to MK Ultra and the Illuminati via the video screen.


Provocative and blurred boundaries between the truth and fiction are the name of the game here. From its documentary style introduction the seven dancers appear on the stage dressed in day glow bodysuits with symbols that remind me of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The video triangle is heavily influenced by 90s pop and 60s psychedelic vibes with Disney Club Alumni.

As I saw it the first half is about a woman who gets trapped within the system and encased in the now upright throne. The second half sees her bid to escape.

When watching these expressional dance pieces its very easy to be dismissive of it as it means scratching the surface further than what you can see in front of you.


I enjoyed the drum and bass combined with pop and it made me want to grab a drink and dance myself. Like being on a night out.

MK Ultra is about escaping restrictions and boundaries as well as acknowledging them.

Rosie Kay has created a provocative piece to be watched and adsorbed. I was still singing “Scream and Shout” this morning as I considered what to write here.

MK Ultra heads out on tour around England and Wales until 10th November.

Find out more about the tour here:

This isn’t a sponsored post. #BrumHour was invited to see MK Ultra at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre by the theatre.