Fringe Online 2020
We begin with a flood of condolence texts that arrive on Terry’s phone. Terry’s ex Luka has died. There is however one contact that causes Terry to pause and not just deal with enormity of loss. He is faced with a digital clearing company has contacted him to ask what should now happen as Terry is the digital executor appointed to make a decision about what Luka has left behind in his social media. The questions that poses are then explored with the contemplation of social media and its role in our life as we ass its relevance to our death through monologue and Terry musing and wondering what ought to be done. Terry has a decision to make. Will the past be erased or digitally clouded with the wrong decision?
Originally this was a well-received live show with clever digital interaction, and this has translated tolerably well to an online presence. It does become less interactive than the live version feels it must have been but still manages to get across through the use of the audio soundtrack and script what a momentous and prescient decision this must be.
User Not Found never delves into the cliché of what it is like to have to contemplate a loss in a social media fashion but never fails to remind us of the humanities that have been exposed. Chris Goode’s script therefore virtually travels well.
Terry O’Donovan’s voice in our ear manages to soothe and translate the awfulness into a direction of travel that has us focused on what it must feel like to have that burden and also wonder about the trivial nature of it all. I have friends who had social media presences and they have now gone but their status remains on my timeline. I have often wondered if at some time a cosmetic cosmos shall wipe their past clean. Here the device of a company who is employed to manage the process feels very 21st Century and totally on point of the times.
Directed ably by Daphna Attis, this manages to combine the story, the performance and give both visual and auditory interconnectivity that can breathe without the interactive nature of a live audience. They have been able to rely on the pathos of the performer to add to their creative visual and aural trickery so what the technical complements the whole very well.
The final decision does feel inevitable and although I would have liked to have known why Luka had Tinder and Grinder on their phone and explore more of the dangers of being subsumed by some apps this is perhaps for another time; even a haunting return. I also found the Facebook to Twitter transfer a little forced, but this piece is truly of its time, making theatre that would capture live what is captured digitally. Online it loses a little of its punch but keeps fighting for the right to feel more than a few likes in an hour.