17 January 2021 (released)
It is not often that a musical that has been originally conceived for the theatre, and is forced to change its plans due to the Pandemic, excels as a live broadcast, but this is one such piece. Its theme of exploring the highs and lows of social media seen through the eyes two young Influencers, plus innovators such as Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are nicely observed and intertwined. The duo of Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke give strong performances throughout. This frenetic world is creatively lit and given full-on visuals and news clips by Matt Daw and Matt Powell . The slickness of these visuals gives the piece it’s urgency and it’s drive, and links the scenes and changes of character very successfully.
This being a verbatim show, all the lyrics and dialogue are taken from YouTube, tweets and Instagram posts some added as recently as two weeks ago. This gives it a currency and an authenticity that cannot be denied. Although keeping the songs to one particular style, does becomes a bit predictable and repetitive.
It is always difficult to make what are in essence superficial on-line comments and people into fully rounded characters . However, the writer/ performers do this exceptionally well and only occasionally fall into stereotyping.
This piece doesn’t come to any conclusions or give us any new insights, but it does make you question your own decisions about how you should interact and use social media, and the repercussions of doing so. There are several stand out moments. The duet from two moderators showing how devastated they become through their constant exposure to the worst kind of content, and the musical numbers where they use images of Vloggers lip-syncing numbers, both, in their own way throw light on the darker side.
It will be very interesting to see where this musical goes in future developments. It might be that it embraces an on-line presence fully as opposed to a theatre audience, as this is where it appears to be most suited.
Written and performed by Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke
Live from Southwalk Playhouse