BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

03/03/2021 - 06/03/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details

A Clown Human, a Digital Brain, a Pianist. A collision of worlds. An unravelling of sorts. 

The most valuable thing we have is our time and energy. What happens when our screens try to steal that from us? ‘Explore the Brain’ dives into humanising the algorithm; debating, collaborating, arguing over the control of HUMAN.

Narrated by live classical piano and digital soundscape played and composed by Hugo Peckham.

BATS Theatre, Wellington
3rd March – 6th March 2021

Sound designer and Composer: Hugo Peckham
Digital Editor: William Barber
Performer: Lydia Peckham
Accompanist: Hugo Peckham 

Theatre , Music , Clown ,

1 hr

Exceptional clowning and music throws light on dark subject

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 06th Mar 2021

If you’ve never worried about how much screen time you’re clocking on your smartphone, Lydia Peckham’s Explore The Brain will change your mind. 

Conceived by the formidable Peckham during lockdown, when her screen time must have been off the hook, this gem of a show features Peckham in almost all roles: The Human (who is a hybrid sensation of Chaplin, Lucille Ball, and even Mr Bean), and a Digital Brain (which happens to include four characters).The pianist, Hugo Peckham, is her brother.

Peckham’s Human is a delightful, whimsical young thing with a heinous addiction to her phone. When she hears that delicious ping! of a like, or a follow, or whatever else they call them now, she can’t help herself. [More
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Surprising, delightful and somewhat terrifying

Review by Ines Maria Almeida 04th Mar 2021

First things first: don’t be fooled by the dull title of this show. Lydia Peckham’s choice does no service to this incredibly exciting and moving piece of theatre. It is exactly what I need after watching a grown-ass man eat a can of cold beans off a desk the night before. Just as I’m losing all hope in the arts, Peckham’s brilliant concept of a ‘digital brain’ making choices about what we’re exposed to, how we’re manipulated and our attention is monetised, is not only on point (thanks to The Social Dilemma) but it’s also a beautifully told story.  

Over lockdown, Peckham had some time on her hands so she began to make films that reflected her thoughts around media (i.e. rabbit holes dysmorphia, fake reality). Peckham’s cast is just … Peckham, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. She is a classic clown a là Charlie Chaplin, a facial storyteller like Lucille Ball, and Natalie Portman-esque in beauty and pathos.

Peckham commands the stage as The Human trying to resist the pings of her smartphone. We watch and relate to the pressure of the ping, and how good it feels when the dopamine floods our brains, when we tap, tap, tap years of our lives away on virtually nothing. 

Her board of different personalities like Social (Instagram), Entertainment (YouTube), Maps (Google Maps) and Monetising (Facebook) is incredibly clever, even more so once William Barber (Digital Editor sitting to my left) informs me that she filmed it all on her… smartphone.

All of the digital characters are trying to rule over the human and we’re on the edge of our seats wondering if she’ll succeed in beating and silencing the pings, and overcoming her addiction, or if she’ll stay cracked out on her phone. The board’s evil plan is to create an echo chamber, and to keep her focus on the things they think are important (and will make them money), like Nike jackets, instead of how much Uber workers are paid.

Entertainment gets a conscience as time goes on, asking, “Do you ever feel like we’re manufacturing addiction?” and I am delighted when The Human deletes Social (makes me want to do it myself, and I would, if I wasn’t so deeply addicted).

While the content is deep, there are so many laughs. Peckham is part Chaplin with her silly moves and part Mr Bean with her cute, mumbling gibberish as she prances to and fro on the stage to her brother’s keyboard accompaniment (also: CUTE that 2 siblings are making radical theatre together – good work mum and dad!).

Oh, a word on the audience. They are all young and beautiful and fabulous. And if you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, it’s because the entire message of the show is that our time and attention are two of the most important things we have. And I’m paying attention to the young gods and goddesses around me.

There’s so much more I could say about this surprising, delightful and somewhat terrifying show. Don’t miss out on the perfect night. Go and watch Peckham be the poem. 


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