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MARKUS SEES A VERY SPIRITED SHOW THAT GETS HIM THINKING!

Traverse Theatre

In today’s society we do live in a world that’s very much entangled within the gossamer threads of the internet. And here and there people who are either a little too naïve or too bold can get lost, stuck and rather undone within this web. And there lurking in the interior with outstretched limbs can be something rather nasty to take advantage of them.

People lately do feel the need to be recognised and it doesn’t seem to really matter what for. And if you’re not out there representing yourself along the spectrum of social media, others may start to question what exactly you’re hiding. But in all honesty how much do folk truly reveal of themselves online? Is the current social media tool that everybody’s buzzing about a true representation of the self, and what happened if every little secret gets revealed? This is in essence the set up created by Corinne Salisbury for Strange Town productions.

I wasn’t familiar with Strange Town before this very night, but I like the idea of a company that’s giving young people the opportunity to showcase their talents and giving them innovative material in order to do so. This is a large cast that supports a very spirited group. To begin with we have a situation that has lured these youths to a place where a digital voice (Mia Scott) is encouraging them to reveal a secret about themselves before it reveals it for them. There are all sorts of teens here; be it the ones that consider themselves cool, the geeks who are comfortable with themselves and the ones that are less so, and everybody in-between including the social climbers. But this ethereal presence seems to have an agenda and a lot of personal information to boot! Its goal: full disclosure. With everything out in the air, it’ll make everyone equal.

That idea in itself is sophisticated, but this tale takes quite a few twists and turns with this concept too. I’ll admit like quite a lot of these minimalist sci-fi stories, things can get a little lost under the weight of the initial idea and this is no different here. But the gumption of the cast does carry this play forward. I’m not sure how strong Catherine Exposito’s direction was in earnest; you can see that although the cast is eager not all the performances are so strong. But you know, I think this actually is a blessing as it shows the teenagers as who they really are. When I looked on stage and saw a character that was cocky but unsure of themselves or another that was very shy, I could see that this wasn’t really acting as such, but the true persona shining through. And for me it was very refreshing, and reminded me of my school days.

Actually in relation to that, one of my favourite things in the show was a recurring group that lounge around a table at school. This wee group that is made up of all sorts of characters; the socially awkward, the intellectual and even the mischievous, are the Greek chorus of this piece. And I like how this band of characters’ bond shone through. And all these different characters reminded me of the kind of cronies I would hang out at school with and even the diverse sort of people I surround myself with to this day.

We also get a rather humourous and laidback performance from Miles Collins as Simon but that does rather befit his chilled out character. And then there was the little romance between characters Craig (Marcus Calderon) and Kirsty (Ffion Reville). They were rather sweet but very shy around one another, and this awkwardness had the truth of youth to it as well, which was rather cute.

All in all, the show was not without its flaws but I can’t really remember the last time I saw a play made me think this much. I’ll be intrigued to see what else Strange Town has to offer and that all these energetic actors get material that is as inventive as this in the future.

Markus Helbig

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