18/02/2022 - 12/03/2022
Tempest Theatre Co
We’ve all had rough nights, but this one is one of the roughest.
Declan woke up in a ditch. Liv is never drinking again. Jamie’s had an existential crisis.
And Sarah is missing.
Retrace their steps. Learn their stories. Find their friend.
Tempest Theatre Co is a Pōneke-based theatre company, focussed on unique and bizarre work, melding the digital and the live. This is their fourth Fringe. Check them out here.
Content forecast: Drug References, Drug Use, Alcohol Use, Emotional Abuse
AVAILABLE ON DEMAND FROM FRIDAY 18 FEBRUARY
Sarah Lewis - Emma Maguire
Declan Smith - Hamish Boyle
Olivia Wilson - Ariadne Baltazar
Jamie Wilson - Shauwn Keil
Webcast , Theatre ,
Obsessive clicking and spying that leaves you feeling slightly dirty = effective art
Review by Cordy Black 05th Mar 2022
Taking contemporary issues out of the narrative mix is a good call right now, because we’re looking at interpersonal dynamics that would seem petty against the backdrop of existential threat.
Taking cues from real world social media browsing habits, editor and deviser Emma Maguire invites participants to become voyeurs. This show is a real marathon, stretching across over 6 hours and displayed as if it has been recorded and commented in real time.
The content has clearly been pre-filmed but the coordination of all the bits is quite impressive. I follow a realistic transition from day through to midnight over the hours and find it surprisingly immersive, even if many of the posts were presumably pre-scheduled. It’s content that you want to take in bites.
At first I make the mistake of attempting to be a ‘good reviewer’, obsessively lurking and refreshing the main quartet of feeds. As the night wears on I find the scenes read much, much better in between a night of other social media browsing – especially playing my own choice of music between the soon-predictable drip feed of plot points that tick over on Twitter each half hour or so.
I’d felt that as a reviewer I would be twisting the narrative if I actually commented and engaged with the protagonists’ online identities, but in retrospect I should have got stuck in there, as I could have squeezed some depth out of the characters and tested their reality as real-time respondents in their digital Purgatory. Side-lurkers Mandy Eeva and Jack Stokes shine for a couple of moments in cross-tweets and comments, and I become sad that they don’t speak more. The main storyline could use a lot more interventions from outside of the ‘main four’.
Each of the main characters has posted scraps of online content before the show’s official Friday launch, by way of introductions. I’d enjoy it if the cast added more depth and history to these bios – they feel too short and flat. These feeds have potential to ground the characters – the party vignettes cannot give them the depth they need, while a longer-running social media backstory has the potential to do that.
One or two grains of hidden extra content in their other social mediums (like a snoopable Tumblr feed) make me wish for more robust historic content, more cross-linked content or even memes to browse between the action. Rummaging through the back catalogue and dubious history of someone’s social media persona is a common pastime after all, and the whole voyeuristic nature of the show is an invitation to dig.
The filmed content that plays out on the ‘rough night’ itself is interesting enough, but doesn’t do its actors much justice – which is a shame because they all seem very capable and I would love to see their characters do more on camera or explore their individual written voices more. A possible exception is Declan (played by Hamish Boyle) who gets just enough video time to show a personality beyond the plot’s demands, and demonstrates a trace of character progression or at least self-awareness near the very end of the night.
All the other characters are defined by a few basic traits and a singular problem, and that’s it. They’re charmless, unsympathetic, toxic and exist in a Sartrean void. But I believe that is exactly the point. This show is designed to make you feel just as trapped and grubby while you hover along and watch surreptitiously-filmed (and livetweeted) scenes.
It’s now morning, and after that gruelling night of obsessive clicking and spying, I still feel slightly dirty. To me, that’s the sign of an effective art piece. I may not have enjoyed it, exactly, and the moral beats of its plot didn’t really land, but the meta-narrative, the format itself, has something to it that I’d really love to see Emma and her cast explore in greater nuance and substance.
I hope Emma and the Tempest team iterate and build more of these experiences.
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