“Technology is bad, m’kay”. That seems to be essentially what this show boiled down to. It was heavy handed and shallow with a very tired message that I’m kind of sick to death of seeing media use. The entire thing has an unpleasant air of shallow smugness, determined to paint anyone the slightest bit appreciative of modern tech as rude, unpleasant, and unlikable. It’s not just the message isn’t even a good one, it’s also just how heavy-handedly the play forces that message down your throat. It’s unrelenting and poorly handled with the characters you’re meant to like and root for coming across as insufferably self-righteous.
Social media isn’t causing the degradation of tangible connection and relationships, if anything it enhancers it. Having a chat in person is lovely, but boycotting smartphones, and other labour-saving technology out a sense of superiority doesn’t make you a better person. Social media and modern technology help connect people across hundreds and thousands of miles, they can help you feel close to someone nowhere nearby, almost unlimited information on almost unlimited subjects can be available at just a few taps. That’s not a bad thing, not matter how you try to paint it, it has its darker side but so does everything, and you can’t tar the entirety of modern technology with the same scornful brush just cus you get annoyed at people looking at their phones in cafés.
It doesn’t help that the script is rather clunky and the actors portraying Ben and Emma, competent performers though they seem to be, have almost zero chemistry, and dialogue that does nothing to make their attraction to each other believable. The saving grace of the performance is the character of Adonis whose actor delivers the most authentic and enjoyable performance in the play. I won’t go into how much the ‘Susan’ character annoyed me except to say I’ve see far better portrayals of AIs onstage before now. There are plot elements brought up early on that go nowhere, and an unfortunate whiff of male-entitlement as things progress. For the sake of no spoilers, I shan’t reveal the details of the ending except to say that it was out of nowhere, an almost complete ‘Diabolus ex Machina’ and jarred the play to sudden, rather underwhelming halt.
Aside from Adonis, staging is the only other thing this play does well. Highly creative and well-thought-out production design has gone into it, and I can’t fault them on that. With a stronger script, this staging could have been very immersive.
This is not a production I’d recommend. I do not find the message it pushes to be a healthy or valid one, and it does a rather poor job of pushing it. It tries too hard to be Black Mirror but fails to realise that even in that series, technology is not a blanket bad thing, only technology that is misused and corrupted. There’s a glimmer of talent underneath this production however, and I’m sure I could see them doing marvellously with something else in the future.