It seems almost cruel to have brought this teenage cast halfway across the world only to perform this duo of unfathomably poorly-written pieces.
Chipped discusses how we use technology to communicate. Drift takes a look into the lives of the young and homeless in New York City. This seems, at first, to hold a lot of promise: if anyone’s equipped to open up a discourse on these compelling issues, it’s young people, isn’t it?
It’s a shame then, that neither of the pieces were written by the young casts starring in them. Forrest Musselman’s Chipped is cringe-inducingly dated, lamenting the perils of texting too much and warning about the dangers of computer viruses and pop-up ads. It’s not a surprise that the cast struggled to show much showmanship or enthusiasm - while in some cases, nerves got in the way, the main problem was that given the play was written almost a decade ago, the tech-based issues it covers are from a generation older than that of the teenage cast – most of whom will have grown up with things like texting and internet shopping as a norm. The show comprises a series of scenes presented as an online video channel – the audience are encouraged to ‘click the link’ to move to the next scene. Even if this medium of web entertainment wasn't already long dead, it wouldn’t have made for a slick or consistent piece of theatre.
Where Chipped is embarrassing, Dennis Bush’s Drift borders on insulting. The structure of the piece is interesting. It is made up of monologues that explain how each young character came to be homeless, and between the monologues there are segments of choral speech. The stories themselves, however, are unconvincing and under-researched – it seems impossible that Bush has taken a moment to look into the reality of being young and homeless. Again, with no real characters to connect to, the cast flounder.
Staged as part of the American High School Festival, it seems almost cruel to have brought this teenage cast halfway across the world only to perform this duo of unfathomably poorly-written pieces.