Pixel Dust

Pixel Dust is a rare thing: a piece of theatre about the internet that isn’t utterly technophobic. That shouldn’t feel like something radical but, sadly, it is and it’s hugely refreshing to see a piece of theatre that isn’t hell bent on decrying the evils and dangers of social media that we’ve all heard before.

Pixel Dust definitely represents a step in the right direction for the future of theatre and the internet but some more work is needed to make this specific show go viral.

Cleverly, it anticipates all the arguments that are levelled against digital natives, namely that we’re addicted to our phones and that Google knows everything about us and throws it back in the faces of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to show that the exact same criticisms are applicable to them. It actually sets the stage for us to have a meaningful conversation about the internet in all its true complexity. Unfortunately there are some elements to the script and production that keep it from living up to its full potential.

Simone James plays Ella, or Dani or Kaylee depending on who she’s talking to either online or in the real world, and writer Clare Bayley uses this to explore the central theme of identity. However she also goes a step further by introducing the fact that Ella, a woman of colour, is the adopted child of a presumably white mother and uses the internet to track down her family and discover her true identity and who she really is. It’s an interesting conceit and an interesting way of exploring identity and the internet in all its complexity but the plot resolves a bit too easily and neatly for it to be believable. This is also not helped by the fact that it feels like two different stories joint together halfway through without enough cohesion to make it fully work. Furthermore James proves herself to be a capable actor but sometimes the persona she plays online can is sickly sweet, like a digital Disney princess, lacking depth that may have been an intentional decision but one that comes across as grating and irritating rather than adding to the production.

In the end Pixel Dust definitely represents a step in the right direction for the future of theatre and the internet but some more work is needed to make this specific show go viral.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Daniella swings from meme to meme, a Tarzan of the datafields. Can she find the answers she needs about who she really is through this digital odyssey? Starring Simone James (365, National Theatre Scotland; Citizenship, National Theatre). From award-winning Clare Bayley (The Container, Fringe First, Young Vic and International tour) Pixel Dust is a bold new play that defies categorisation. Directed by Metta Theatre’s Poppy Burton-Morgan (Mouthful, Trafalgar Studios) with set, lighting and video designed by William Reynolds (Dark Vanilla Jungle, Fringe First). Supported by the Wellcome Trust.

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