IRL

I was curious about IRL. A dance piece billed as a 'thought-provoking performance about navigating life in an increasingly intrusive and connected world'. It could have gone either way. But the young @YonderDanceCo from Alabama managed to find the sweet spot between interactivity, playfulness and profundity.

The inventiveness didn't stop, and it led to moments of real beauty

The opening section is particularly beautiful. They asked us to take out our phones. Navigate to a specific website. And play the audio file that we found there. The sound of music drifting around the space, playing out of 60 different devices, all at slightly different times, was a gorgeous spectacle and a clever way to get us to 'lean in' from the very beginning.

The inventiveness didn't stop, and it led to moments of real beauty on the stage at Greenside Nicholson Square. The dancers weave in and out of each other, in what the company call the "manipulated and accented use of pedestrian phrasing". A small group peels off to explore a new idea, the rest of the company mill around them, taking photos, sharing updates on Instagram, making video calls with friends and family. The interplay between focus and distraction, togetherness and separation, is neatly executed time and time again.

You're encouraged to use your phone during the performance. At one point I found myself taking a photo of another audience member who was taking a photo of a performer who was filming his fellow performers. Meta as heck. And that's exactly what Yonder want. I was amazed at how, despite literally everyone having their phones in their hands for the duration of the piece, nobody seemed disengaged.

This is the central theme of IRL. Our relationship with our phones. How they bring us together and pull us apart and delight and torment us. It's not a perfect show, and at times feels a little unfocused and lapses into cliche. How many times have we seen people on a stage pretending to be commuters on a jostling train?

Luckily they push through the obvious and find these moments of beauty. 'plz "like" me' is a lovely scene that explores the schizophrenic relationship we have to social media; our desire to be liked juxtaposed with our fear of being exposed. And as IRL draws to a close, the lights dim. Perhaps the most engaging dancer in the company, Drew Martin (or @drew_martin1), stands upstage centre, his face lit only by the flickering light of his phone screen. Suddenly flashlights from the other performers' phones turn on. The audience start to turn theirs on too. It's a beautiful end to a surprising performance.

You could do much worse than to check out IRL. But be quick. Their final performance is on the 10th August.

Reviews by Jim Ralley

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Woke

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Paul Williams: Santa Fe

★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Stuart Bowden: Our Molecules

★★★★
Heroes @ Bob's BlundaBus

Robin Clyfan: The Sea Is Big Enough to Take It

★★★★
C venues – C royale

A Hero of Our Time

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Our digital lives are demanding more and more of our attention, occupying our mental and emotional space. Join us for a thought-provoking performance about navigating life in this increasingly intrusive and connected world. Yonder has brought together award-winning choreographers and composers to explore the challenges of living in a society where technology demands and offers so much. Don't forget to bring your phone. You're going to need it.

Most Popular See More

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets