Edinburgh Fringe 2019
It may be difficult to start things but once they get going, we have one young man taking us through his Facebook presence with a clear need to get “liked”. There are a variety of scenarios which he has clearly been through and the level of anxiety from which he suffers grows as time progresses. The taking of photographs and posting them online to the way in which he craves attention but not too close – online can be an uncomfortable bond between audience and performer and here it is given lots of examples of how to take selfies, how to share and what criteria makes success for a millennial. This is about being up close and quite impersonal.
The script has merit, but meanders and we get Facebook rather than social media in all of its forms. It traps us, ironically, in just one social media place of hell. It means we get glimpses and not full blown examinations in the way in which it would appear to be promised. It does give us access to the horror and what we have could be claimed with Facebook alone, is more than enough to be getting along with.
Our guide, for there is only one, has an engaging personality and approach. When he is desperate, we know because he pauses for an answer from above – or the internet to be more precise. As a directed piece it needs to have a little more peaks and troughs as the delivery has the feeling of being allowed to emerge rather than being heavily influenced by an outside hand. It is this which makes it less than poignant and we get lost a little in the niceness.
To ensure we are on board with the message of the all encompassing anxiety which being liked online gives young people, we do not require there to be zombies and screams but we do need something more. We get taken along a gentle pathway that whilst this may be terrible, it is not really feel that dreadful. The sympathy I might have felt gets a little drained as the irritation with people trying to get the same level of hit as a heroin fix from the online love they need is quite self indulgent and it comes across as thus.
The online screen shots are a neat addition and scrolling down with the protagonist in front of us a conceit that does work. What doesn’t quite work as well is wearing a white t shirt live and a black t-shirt on screen for the “in show” selfie.
That aside there is clearly an issue in here that deserves exploration. Whether we truly get to delve into the topic in sufficient depth may be debatable but it is a gentle hour spent in the company of a very personable young man who, by then end, we feel sympathy for but may yet be unable to find understanding the way he seeks.