Simone James stars in Wondr, Poppy Burton-Morgan’s debut as a playwright with Metta Theatre. Social media phenomenon Faith Allgood explodes into the digital world inspiring her masses of online followers as a ‘digilante’, hooked on her phone and her need to self-gratify through making a difference. James launches into Burton-Morgans vivid spoken word verse and we are transfixed by Faith’s witty observations about the world we live in, her passion, love for her daughter teenage daughter Freya, and her determination to express her political and social awareness through Twitter and Instagram. In spite of the onslaught of misogynistic trolling, she persists, and resists the fear that maybe one day those threats may become real. Protected by the shield of online persona as @WondrWomanUK, she believes she is invincible.
For the duration of the piece we witness Simone James’ intense performance – snot bubbles galore – as she tries to come to terms with the violation, and the fact she is imaginary.
That comfort is shattered when she is coming to the end of the school run, and her daughter is abducted. Faith’s quest to find her daughter is thrilling, and unpredictable and the audience are swallowed by James’ urgency in demonstrating Faith’s imaginative strategy. We follow her into a media corporation’s headquarters where she dresses as a maid and role-plays her way through the building in a desperate search for Freya, all the while employing the help of her online network. Her phone is switched, and as she tries to reach out to the digital world she finds her photos full of a little blonde girl.
For the duration of the piece we witness Simone James’ intense performance – snot bubbles galore – as she tries to come to terms with the violation, and the fact she is imaginary. This twist I felt was clever, but due to James’s incredibly gripping performance of this character the audience has grown to love, we feel cheated. Stripping us of our emotional investment, we are not given any satisfaction by the end of the show – which then seems to go on far too long.
Distracted by giving an imaginary TED Talk to her bathroom mirror, social media phenomenon Faith Allgood (@WondrWomanUK) is running late for the school run. She’s glitching. Little does she know her world is about to implode... Darkly comic, this genre-busting debut play from acclaimed director Poppy Burton-Morgan (Mouthful, Trafalgar Studios) is both tense thriller and allegory of digital identity. Directed by Amanda Huxtable (Hull Truck) and designed by William Reynolds (Dark Vanilla Jungle; Fringe First), and starring Simone James (365, National Theatre Scotland; Citizenship, National Theatre).