FringeReview Scotland 2017
William Barrett, professor, has made an off the cuff remark that has soiled his shirt. Calling one of his students a slut when he meant she was messy, the campus has gone bananas with one side evoking a female only response and the other side offended now by the femenazis. In amongst this a controversial alt-right speaker is invited to speak for the masses/minority (your choice) causing a minor riot and the professor, eventually getting a hook to pull him out of it.
This was a commentary on the way in which social media plays a massive part in our lives and can cause a storm in seconds. The problem was that the language of the internet quickly becomes bland or vituperative very leading to stereotypical responses and a lack of depth in the characters on show. At times, I was wishing for a scene or three to delve a little deeper into the psyche of the characters on show before they launched into a cliché or two to demonstrate just how banal and surface based the social media revolution is. Often the laughs were easy to find at the ridiculous posturing of many – especially the cliched professor trying to get his head round the internet – it became difficult to agree upon what he would qualify as an expert.
What was impressive was the twist in the tail with traditional media being the one to stab our campaigning journalist right between the blades.
The direction was crisp with the material given and the way in which the video wall was used to show when people were online was a clever help. Their little video memes were quite helpful in filling in some of the characterisation but I did feel some of the actors straining against the leash of the boxes upon which they were sitting. It is perhaps a personal view and a moot point but I really wanted to see more of them and their points of view. Seeing them grow in front of me would have given so much more commentary upon what the effects of the internet space was doing to them.
Having said that they were never less than engaging and I am certainly caught in wanting to see them again. This had clever flourishes and touches like how the Sports guy ended up with Coach in his corner, the geek with an alt right agenda had the same coach, a female, looking out for him in cyberspace thanks to his mom and the prof was a lovely cameo.
This did raise a number of questions that were complex and valuable, and I think it has a great deal of merit. It asked plenty of questions of me so it did its job. It makes me want to see Hurley’s work, Director Shilpa T-Hyland’s work and the work of these students again so what the heck am I complaining about? The fact that I wanted more is perhaps the best compliment at this stage of their careers I can deliver.