Online Fringe 2020
Two news anchors, dealing with their new reality of presenting from home have news for us – the world is going to end in 21 minutes. There may not be time for the skateboarding squirrel – but as we find out and already know – there always is – whilst a cast of other characters – the editor, the new member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Mr Hornet and Gabriel Spring presenting the weather interject to hurry things along. There are breakdowns aplenty for the people at home, with cut aways to watch their reactions, and we are presented with the drama of a modern media world trying to find the right way to present its own destruction.
There are a lot of ideas floating about this which have a great deal working for them and a few things that could do with being revisited. I was very much reminded of the Goodies when watching the whole thing – slightly surreal but also gentile in some of its thinking. I am not sure, however if we can quite see the piece yet in terms of completed and polished comedy drama.
Drama needs conflict and contrast and the two anchor characters giving the same panicky style approach – whether to realizing they are all going to die or they need to get this broadcast out means that we are tonally on a raft of high pitched panic. For 21 minutes that can lack any form of jeopardy or tension. The two battling characters in the shape of Mr Hornet and Mr Spring – presented as female but referred to as male – lacked any real dramatic intensity as they were lost in a sea of this high pitched presentation. If they are battling over the world, they are hardly likely to bring to the table a degree of calm assurance, though Mr Hornet could have adopted a more sinister tone.
The earnestness with which this enthusiastic cast have gone about their business is a great plus as they truly believe that their piece has lots to give and it has. There may be flaws – the cut away to the people watching are well done though needs more attention to them to avoid the over the top reactions – and the graphics are simply excellent. The idea has a great deal going for it and the boundless commitment of a cast and the creative team with the right approach, working slightly less hard to convince us and direction that could truly capture us with subtlety in an absurd world – absurd in itself – could be a fantastic addition to the artistic firmament. I shall look out for what comes next.