#MyWay

Young Pleasance has built up a reputation as a company surprisingly close in quality to many more adult and professional theatre troupes at the Fringe. 2014 is no exception. This year’s #MyWay charts the social and digital struggles of a Sinatra-obsessed teenager with a penchant for love: Charlie, the boy who dared to leave Facebook. With a playful nature and fluid understanding of social media platforms, certainly aided by its age-range of 15-19, the company has created a genuinely funny and gratifying piece.

It shouldn’t matter if you don’t understand Facebook or Twitter too much yourself – all you have to do is enjoy the show.

The somehow 30-strong cast are a delight in their array of roles, each bringing real warmth to the stage. Lead Joe Spence has a shifty magnetism that easily wins over the crowd. The cast appear as a sheer mass of youth with an unbridled vitality – one can only imagine the creativity of the devising process with so many energetic individuals.

The true highlights of the show emerge when bridging the absurdity of online interactions with live performance. The dramatisation of social media platforms is fascinating to watch and is very imaginative, ranging from a chant of Facebook ‘likes’ to a physical Twitter feed made up of Bob Fosse-inspired choreography – it’s as fantastic as it sounds. The login-page bouncer is a simply-crafted moment of comic genius, revealing the strengths of a show that is happy for incidental characters and events to overshadow the rest of a scene for the sake of its quirky humour.

The show does have a tendency to play out these moments as long as it can, and might have achieved a slicker production with a greater willingness to cut things short at appropriate times. A choir interlude and an opening song are fun to hear but seem to go on simply because they can and there’s still time to fill. Some jokes, too, could have hit harder with slightly different timing or changes of phrase. The more naturalistic scenes suffer from wooden dialogue that is in sharp contrast to the fluid concepts and language elsewhere in the piece. Nevertheless, the cast’s eternally casual and cheerful air makes these issues all the slighter.

Small touches greatly aid the show, such as bringing up a feed of Charlie’s Facebook as he checks his notifications, or the website-corresponding colour-coding. The surprising use of projections and animations are a welcome addition, never over-used or overly relied on. Thankfully, #MyWay really pushes for this strong precision and playfulness in depicting the internet and its users. It shouldn’t matter if you don’t understand Facebook or Twitter too much yourself – all you have to do is enjoy the show.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘Once again the excellent Young Pleasance has come up trumps' (Scotsman). Our Sinatra-obsessed teenager plunges into the Twittersphere in pursuit of his digital darling, but she's too busy choosing her Instagram filter. A stunning new contemporary comedy with a cast of 30, populated with young talent the likes of which ‘makes many of the adult ensembles at the Fringe squirm with envy’ (Skinny), and filled with wry and comic observation of the social media vortex in which teenagers revolve. Young Pleasance presents a swirling multimedia love story for now.

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