Arts Reviews

TL;DR @ NNT Quarantine Season

TL;DR, Bill Hayes’ first go at play writing, is the premiering piece of the Nottingham New Theatre’s online quarantine season. This virtual piece brings a charged depiction of ‘Alistair’ (played by Rohan Rakhit), who utilises Youtube to create heated discussion with his right-wing community. Haye’s thought-provoking script brings to our screens nothing less than the embodiment of the devil’s advocate.

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MEET THE TEAM. tl;dr. 29 july 2020.

A post shared by tl;dr by Bill Hayes (@tldr.nnt) on

The play greatly lends itself to its virtual format with editors Max Nichols and Skylar Turnbull Hurd successfully rendering an immersive experience for the viewer. We are put in the unavoidable position of feeling like the subscriber face on with this controversial figure of Alistair. The animation and transition are executed in a realistic fashion; perhaps it could have benefited from some added ‘computer’ sound effects to break up any long silences. The editing of ‘Alistair’s’ videos themselves is very true to the Youtube approach we see everyday, making it seem as if we are really falling down the infamous ‘Youtube wormhole’.

Rohan Rakhit’s monologue performance is very believable, especially in the concept of this channel being his online vice for his relentless ranting. His patronising tone and obtrusive proximity to the camera make us feel uncomfortable in the desired way, while his disconcerting wide-eyed expressions portray the character’s unwavering belief in his own words effectively. Rakhit clearly embraced the material well, becoming an unlikeable character who has become isolated as a consequence of his own actions. 

Rakhit clearly embraced the material well

The simple set up of the piece draws the attention to the content and writing itself. Hayes’ writing is intellectual and has clear intent, depicting ‘Alistair’ to be self-aware and self-absorbed. Considering the differences the online season of plays will create, the play couldn’t be more fitting in both chosen setting and relevance to the current social climate of fighting hate. The first half can seem a little monotonous, but it is pulled back with the change of tone in the latter. 

Ace Edward’s poster design and publicity of the show is effective in its simplicity, not too much is revealed about the play’s contents, keeping us intrigued; you would not know the contents of a Youtube video until you clicked on it, so the same goes for TL;DR

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Official Poster. THIS WEDNESDAY 29/07.

A post shared by tl;dr by Bill Hayes (@tldr.nnt) on

Undeniably, the play is strengthened through an enthusiastic team who made this unusual project come together to be a realistic piece. Credit is due to the fact that they had the limitations of comprising everything, ironically, over the internet. Hayes’ play fortunately is not lacking in lighting or design set up due to its intentionally plain staging. If anything, TL;DR works better as an online piece than it would have on stage; it is clearly written with a tailored approach in mind. It is an opening piece that truly celebrates the NNT’s online season with a controversial punch.

It is an opening piece that truly celebrates the NNT’s online season with a controversial punch

To watch TL;DR, go to https://newtheatre.org.uk at 7:30pm on Wednesday 29th July.

Rowan Cothliff

Images and featured image courtesy of @tldr.nnt via instagram.com.

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