Forget Fire

Forget Fire, named after a line in a poem by W.S. Merwin, is a devised piece by students from Pepperdine University, Malibu. It explores the effect of technology and social media on human communication and invites us to put our phones down and look out at the world instead, "face to face, not face to phone". The main story follows Jamie. After giving her phone away on the street when she becomes disenchanted with the world's over-reliance on them, she comes to terms with how technology is changing the world she knows.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the piece is a beautiful music and movement sequence, which is really effective.

The subject choice (our dependency on and exploitation by social media and the Internet) may not be new, but it is inventively delivered in a collage of lit up umbrellas, entangled ribbons and quirky props. It feels hand-made and authentic, which is comforting, especially when the narrative is broken up so much that the sense is sometimes lost. Onstage music and sound effects are mostly successful, like the wind chime made of cutlery, and we move smoothly between different time frames and locations.

The narrative is interspersed with direct messages to the audience, such as facts and figures about websites, which add to the layering of the piece but are not always relatable to the story and can feel clunky. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the piece is a beautiful music and movement sequence, which is really effective. It is a silent performance of a poem about the Internet and is one of the moments when it becomes clear that the production was devised from poetry. This sets the mood for the play but it does mean that the dialogue can seem slightly unnatural.

The cast of twelve, armed with iPhones, are slick and confident, although the energy isn't consistent and the emotional stakes don't seem high enough at times, such as during the search for a lost child. Their message matters to them and the voices and physicalities are generally good, although the delivery isn't always fresh.

Unlike other plays with the same message, it doesn't berate the Internet but instead encourages a healthy attitude and appreciation for both the technology in our pockets and the world around us. For an adult audience, it is not completely successful, but teenagers should see the piece and it would do well in schools; the message is good, important and comforting.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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The Blurb

‘We needed somewhere to put everything we have now. And everything we might create later’. Layers are put upon layers. Myriad sources contribute irregular pieces. Can we make a structure that will last? Our pursuit of truthfulness and solidarity in the age of the internet moves through the crossing over places and along the paths and walls between worlds. It seeks sentries in this strange new landscape. Does technology create new challenges or just intensify age old struggles? Can we ever forget fire? Devised by Fringe First recipients Pepperdine Scotland and award-winning playwright JC Marshall.