The End of the World

The End of the World is a theatre-concert which juxtaposes global apocalypse scenarios with personal stories about mortality and disability. Using a mixture of music, narration and visual storytelling we contemplate the various ways the human race could meet its end, explore the cognitive biases surrounding our conception of death and the future, and ask the question: can we learn how to live better by learning how to die?

The End of the World was conceived in London and Berlin over five weeks across 2018. We undertook a further three weeks of workshops and documentation with musicians in Perth, Australia, in January and February 2019. Further development and production is planned for 2021.

In addition to the live show we will present our research alongside conversations with relevant scientists and experts in an upcoming podcast series.

This project has been generously supported by Arts Council England and the West Australian Department of Culture and the Arts.

Photos by Arlo Dean Cook and Emma Sulley


Bringing light to the experience of living and dying with Alzheimer’s, STYX is a theatre-concert telling the true story of a grandmother and grandson piecing together the memories that connect them across time. Weaving together riotous songs, intimate storytelling and a journey through the neuroscience of memory, the show reveals the extraordinary power music has to reignitefading memories.

STYX was premiered at the Fringe World festival in Perth in January 2019, where it won a Fringe Weekly Award. STYX was nominated for a Total Theatre Award in the Emerging Company category at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019, and transferred to London for runs at The Playground Theatre and Streatham Space Project.

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STYX has been generously supported by the West Australian DLGSC

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Film by Arlo Dean Cook
Photos by Wade Ranson, Ilme Vysniauskaite and Emma Sulley

Concept for a Film

Extreme close up on a mushroom, glowing softly against the forest floor. 
Pan down to reveal a tangled underground web.
Zoom out to reveal everything.

Max went for a run during a world-stopping pandemic, and had an idea for a world-changing feature film. Now he and his friend Jethro are going to try to pitch it.

Concept for a Film blends radical mycology, vulnerable autobiography and experimental sound and music design in order to explore the fundamental interconnectivity of the world and a human race on the brink of self-induced destruction.

The piece juxtaposes an imagined disaster movie where fungi start fighting back, accounts of Max’s father’s recent Leukaemia diagnosis and his outsourced fungal immune system, magic mushroom trips, explorations of human colonisation, and the creation of a huge sensor-responsive analogue synth made in the form of an underground mycelial network. Drawing from Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, Richard Powers’ The Overstory, and Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World, the piece endeavours to shape itself according to the rules of nature, rather than following a Western patriarchal notion of linear, heroic narrative.

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design by Second Body

Invisible Mending

You see three women sitting on the edge of a beach. 
You can see that they are weaving.
You can hear that they are singing. 

They sing what was, what is, and what must come to be.

Invisible Mending is the premiere of a collaboration between award-winning theatre maker/musicians Yoshika Colwell and Max Barton (of Second Body). In the summer of 2020 as a pandemic raged, Yoshika was processing the death of her beloved grandmother, Ann. A woman of few words, Ann’s one great creative outlet was knitting. And not just any knitting. Her projects were intricate, virtuosic works of art, which still adorn the wardrobes of her nearest and dearest.

As she reached the end of her life, Ann started a new project. Too wide for a scarf, too narrow for a jumper, this project was following no plan. She was simply using up the last of her wool. Yoshika now takes up this piece where Ann left off. A show about love, grief and knitting, Invisible Mending combines original music, metaphysics and verbatim material to explore the power in small acts of creativity. The piece is performed and written by Yoshika, with Max directing, co-writing and performing live music and sound processing.

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About Us

Second Body was started in 2019 by Max Barton and Jethro Cooke, and was born out of a mutual interest in combining live music, theatre and storytelling. 

Max is a director, playwright and musician based in London. He trained on the Theatre Directing MfA at Birkbeck. Jethro is a composer, sound designer and theatre maker based in Berlin. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Max and Jethro previously collaborated several times as part of the company PIGDOG (2015-17), including new works BOAT (2016), BLAME (2016-17) and the world premiere of Philip Ridley’s epic play Karagula (DEM/Soho Theatre), which was nominated for 8 Off-West End awards, including best director and best production, winning 2.

Photo by Ilme Vysniauskaite