Broken Link

It’s been five years since Ellie’s death. Her best friend, her twin brother, her boyfriend, and the friend who looked up to her like an older sister all meet every year on the anniversary of her passing. This time, because of Covid, they’re forced to meet on Zoom, until an unexpected guests unravels their secrets.

An intriguing and exciting attempt to script specifically for Zoom

The concept of being haunted on a video call might sound all very pandemic, but it has been done before, most notably in Unfriended, the 2014 film that tried to modernise the horror genre. If you’ve seen the trailer for Broken Link, you might be expecting something a little more along those spooky lines. However, despite including some supernatural elements, Broken Link is pure drama, and walks away from attempts to shock or scare to instead focus on exploring the relationships between the characters.

As you begin the recording, you are invited to scan a QR code to simultaneously stream the character’s text messages on your phone as you watch them receive them on screen. Whilst most performances discourage looking at your phone, this is a clever innovation that experiments with the boundaries of Zoom theatre. Adding this extra dimension isn’t necessary to follow the plot, but it allowed the performers to react to their texts naturally on camera, whilst allowing the viewer to absorb every detail.

Noga Flaishon’s script is well paced, and allows the action to get going quickly, whilst director Kitty Ball performs an excellent balancing act. She squares the desire to create the atmosphere of a realistic Zoom call, whilst also trying to editorialise the performance by occasionally spotlighting the speakers. However, the performers give each other a lot of space; this meant that the performance didn’t descend in to chaos, but also that Broken Link didn’t reach the emotional heights the subject matter required. I felt a need for more intense reactions, both when the characters were listening to the revelations of others, as well as when making confessions themselves. As a result, the ending felt a little too neatly resolved, as the plot and the energy petered out in the final 15 minutes.

Overall, Broken Link is an intriguing and exciting attempt to script specifically for the medium of Zoom. Although Broken Link was not necessarily as bone-chilling as promised, Harpy Productions have fully considered the audience’s experience at every point. In Broken Link they have presented a play which actively benefits from the streaming format, whilst preserving its theatrical construction to create an entertaining and very watchable drama.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

First OnComm Nominee of 2021! Four friends from a small town meet every year to remember their closest friend, Ellie, who committed suicide four years ago. It is now 2020. They have to meet on Zoom. Tonight Ellie joins the call. Created and Written by Noga Flaishon and Directed by Kitty Ball, 'Broken Link' was created especially for the virtual medium, utilising the genre to its fullest, bringing the audience an engaging and immersive theatre experience - on your screens, and to your phones! It is a bone-chilling and touching story of betrayal, hope and who we are when adolescence is over.

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