This is a show that very much knows what it wants to be and is deeply invested in conveying this to the audience. Even before you enter the theatre you get a sense of the journey you about to take. This show is a story about privacy, obsession and whether we should trust our governments with information about our private lives. If these things sound appealing to you this is a must see.
“This show is a story about privacy, obsession and whether we should trust our governments”
As you walk towards the theatre you are directed towards the studios at the back. You enter a studio room to find the usual front of house set up with a ticket stall and drinks. The foyer area looks onto an intricately detailed set of a young woman’s apartment. While you wait for the show to start you watch Liberty (Cecilia Alexander) read her book. To have a performance begin in a foyer is an excellent idea, and an NNT first in my memory. It is very effective at setting up the themes of observation.
“You get a sense of guilt throughout the play, as you the audience are also spying”
When you take your seat in the neighbouring studio you are greeted by Julian (Charlie Basley), a GCHQ surveillance officer whose job is to spy on suspected criminals. From the start you learn that Julian enjoys abusing the power to look into anyone’s life, whenever he wants. He talks cynically to the audience, who he believes are beneath him for allowing all these observation devises (such as webcams) into their lives. He reveals his particular obsession with a girl called Liberty who he thinks he is in love with. We see her projected onto a screen, unaware that she is being observed. You get a sense of guilt throughout the play, as you the audience are also spying on Liberty.
“There were also interesting parallels made between invasion of public privacy and abusive relationships”
Cameron Brett has definitely written a very strong play here. I loved how it could be understood both naturalistically and metaphorically with Liberty representing the audience’s personal freedoms which Julian wants to own. There were also interesting parallels made between invasion of public privacy and abusive relationships, as Julian believes he is in a relationship with Liberty and that she enjoys being watched. It’s obvious that Cameron believes very passionately that if people have the power to control your lives they will, and trusting our governments to not abuse this power is naïve. This point of view comes across very well and I’m sure audience members will go home thinking about how they give away their online data.
“[Charlie] gave the character a great range from being violent and enraged to deeply apologetic”
Charlie showed an excellent charisma in this monologue piece. He really captured your attention and intrigue despite playing a very despisable person. He also gave the character a great range from being violent and enraged to deeply apologetic. Credit must also go to Cecilia who did a great job staying in character whilst being livestreamed.
This production seemed very well organised due to the diligence of producer Alice Walker. For a play reliant on a livestream from one room to another, there were no technical issues. Danni Cooper did a great job as lighting designer. She decided to punctuate Julian’s moments of outrage with the strobing of LED’s, which I found effective.
“The pacing in this performance was excellent”
Monologues can often seem like an unending wave of continuous emotion. The pacing in this performance however was excellent. There were moments of quiet reflection where Julian would go back to his work for a few minutes. Leaving the audience to watch Liberty and really engage with how important our privacy is, and how much is being taken from us.
After watching this play you’ll think about covering you’re phone cameras and laptop webcams. In the fear that you like Liberty are being observed.
Featured Image courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre Official Facebook Page.