Tag Archives: Tatty Hennessy

Something Awful

Something Awful

★★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Something Awful

Something Awful

Cavern – The Vaults

Reviewed – 29th January 2020

★★★★★

 

“a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat”

 

In 2014, two twelve-year-old girls from Wisconsin stabbed their supposed best friend 19 times in an attempt to appease the fictional internet creation Slender Man. Fortunately, the victim survived, having crawled to a road where she was found, and the two girls were subsequently found not guilty by mental disease or defect. Something Awful, the new play from award-winning Flux Theatre written by Tatty Hennessy and directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, takes inspiration from this gruesome tale and the horrors that lurk on online forums.

Soph (Natalya Martin) and her best friend Jel (Monica Anne) love reading scary stories on websites such as Creepypasta, that is, until new girl Ellie (Melissa Parker) turns up with her own horror story of a mysterious figure with an axe in the nearby forest. The line between fiction and reality slowly begins to blur with disastrous consequences.

Something Awful takes a fascinating premise and addresses issues becoming increasingly relevant in our society. The ease in which children can access grotesque and inappropriate content on the internet is an obvious concern for parents, and the real-life case which the play is based on demonstrates the possible terrifying results of such exposure. A scene in which Soph gets her first period at a sleepover reminds us just how young these characters are despite the media they are consuming, and the quick installation of a VPN on their mobile devices shows just how quickly young people can get around the barriers in place for their protection.

All three women are fantastically convincing in their roles, and have excellent chemistry. The play’s pacing is good for the most part though the morbid conclusion to the tale is perhaps a bit rushed. Some more build up to the girls’ decision would be appreciated though this does also make the ending all the more dramatic in its suddenness.

The set (Bethany Pratt) is very simple. Two tables are moved around the stage for different scenes, in some, they are desks, in another a bed and, in the performance’s final moments, either side of a forest path. Props are also minimal. The cast carry school backpacks from which appear, amongst other things, a laptop, a takeaway container and some scissors.

The lighting (Holly Ellis) is slick and perfectly reflective of the mood on stage. When Soph reads out a terrifying tale, the stage slowly darkens until only she is left in the spotlight. Green hues are also used frequently to give a thoroughly creepy feel to the show. There is potential for certain moments to be creepier – for example, the opening story about a disfigured woman would pack more punch if Parker was to wear a mask – but this had no real impact on the show’s overall affect.

Overall, Something Awful is a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat.

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

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F. Off

★★★★

Belly Button Underbelly

F. Off

Underbelly Cowgate

Reviewed – 14th August 2019

★★★★

 

“Not only does ‘F. Off’ talk about issues, it lays them out for you, right in front of your face”

 

The National Youth Theatre has been the home of the best young talent in the country, and ‘F.Off’ demonstrates this in spades. It is an interactive theatrical gem, putting Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg on trial in front of the people. Well, Zuckerberg doesn’t actually make an appearance, but an excitable audience member takes his place. The play exposes the disturbing truth behind algorithms, social media and politics. Did you know that the average person shares 27,000 pieces of data on their profile? Did you know that you can be tracked even if you don’t use Facebook? All of these facts bubble to the surface through improvised interactions with audience members. Masterful directorial decisions are made in this piece, (Paul Roseby and Meghan Doyle) such as asking a viewer if they can look on their Facebook page in real time and tell the audience what information it gives away. Not only does ‘F. Off’ talk about issues, it lays them out for you, right in front of your face.

The stage design (Libby Todd) captures the central metaphor of the play, as said in one of the first lines of text: ‘Why build a net unless you want to catch something?’. The stage has a bare frame, covered in blue netting that ensnares various props as the drama progresses. Every detail, from the set to the direction, has been thoroughly thought-through and has a clear purpose.

There is potential for a show on this topic to become preachy and overly-didactic. However, the three main storylines display the effects of the internet in a variety of ways: through a political campaign, the effect the campaign has on the politician’s child, and the courtroom itself. The ensemble is strong in terms of characterisation and movement (Tim Jackson). Stylised physical theatre sections move the action along between scenes, building a sense of growing momentum. Amelia Braithwaite’s performance of the politician’s daughter is of particular note as she portrays the typical adolescent struggle of trying to fit in, with authenticity and nuance. The ensemble uses music for comedic effect, keeping in line with the tongue-in-cheek tone used throughout. A highlight of this is their adaption of Stevie Wonder’s classic anthem ‘Superstition’, with new lyrics about reading the ‘Terms and Conditions’, as a viewer signs away their freedom.

‘F. Off’ tows the line between informative content and comedic delivery, while remaining attentive to the quality of the storytelling. This piece of theatre should be viewed with no less validity and merit than the adult shows produced by the same company. I can’t wait to see what this bunch of budding actors goes on to do next.

 

Reviewed by Emily Morris

 


F. Off

Underbelly Cowgate until 25th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019

 

 

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