Edinburgh Fringe 2018
One night in a rainy city, three people search for something undefinable they seem unable to find, more attached to their online selves than who they are in the “real” world. Award winning Middle Child are back with a new piece of gig theatre.
Kat is hoping for a maternity leave cover position which would mean a promotion. Maybe then she could even stop taking the bus to work. She’s dissatisfied in her relationship with Kit, an unmotivated fast food delivery cyclist who is mostly occupied with hanging out in a car park ignoring deliveries and sending cat emojis to Kat (it’s their thing, except he doesn’t appear to know she doesn’t like cats). Oh, and with his online porn obsession. Then there’s MoMo, a selfie-obsessed young girl who is being harassed by her school mates because there’s a video circulating online of her sleeping with her teacher.
Kat decides not to return home to Kit for their regular Friday night pizza and a movie tradition, but instead to meet up with a handsome someone she met online. MoMo leaves her phone on the bus and Kat finds it on her way to her date. And Kit meets MoMo at McDonalds and decides to help her recover her phone.
True to Middle Child’s gig theatre aesthetic, the narrative is peppered with songs (written by James Frewer and Honeyblood). Nicely staged in the round, the actors move around the stage delivering everything into cordless microphones, adding to the concert feel.
The show makes some clever observations about relationships in the age of social media, from Kit and Kat’s inability to really talk to each other about how they feel – both are able to tell MoMo things in their short interaction with her that they simply cannot say to each other, to MoMo’s finding a sense of empowerment and desirability rather than shame from her sex tape.
There’s humour as well, particularly in the recitation of the various cat memes Kit is sending, growing more and more ridiculous – “cat holding a flower, cat in a wheelbarrow, cat doing zumba” (I don’t think those are exactly the ones they listed but you get the idea) and Kat’s growing frustration with these. The performances are solid, particularly Tanya Loretta Dee as Kat who is very watchable, but the actors don’t have much chemistry with each other.
Ultimately there needs to be more to this story to sustain interest, and I noticed a lot of shuffling about in seats and blank stares in the audience by the last ten minutes. I didn’t care enough about the characters or become invested in their lives so by the end I just wasn’t really concerned whether Kit and Kat stayed together or whether MoMo….well, what significance MoMo has in this piece other than as a stereotype of a young internet savvy vixen providing Kit with temptation to be unfaithful whilst his girlfriend is off doing the same is hard to say really.
It’s difficult to make shows on the subject of social media theatrical and Middle Child uses a lot of creative techniques to do so. There’s some very good stuff here but it doesn’t quite feel like it has come together yet. Perhaps with some further development it will do. As it stands, you might very well enjoy it more than I did so if this sounds like your cup of tea (or your kind of cat emoji….?) then check it out.