The Forum

This new play examines the already well-examined possibilities that social networking has granted to original writing. In an open online forum four characters have an alternative world at their fingertips where they can live a different life, hiding from their unsatisfactory or tormented realities.The main characters take comfort in the projected images of themselves online. It affords them the anonymity that allows them to express their hidden emotions, while fatuous conversation, however insincere, provides some shred of comfort that other people still might care. Inevitably the online personae are tested by the reality of each life behind the image. The forum may have provided a facade, but the actuality of their lives takes a hold and leads the characters in separate directions.The play’s interrogation of the problems and benefits that emerge from online interaction is cleverly done. Even while the characters seem in full flow with conversation they still stand estranged from each other and talking into the audience. This isolation is brought into full relief when the characters meet each other offline and the interaction leans emphatically towards body language while miscommunication overwhelms the conversation. The characters are frustrated, as their insecurities inhibit what really needs to be said. The importance of communication is the message that carries the show to its emotional climax where the players can be saved, left behind or destroyed by how and when they express themselves.The show dwells upon the hollow distractions which a life lived on the internet can regularly provide, and as a result it is inevitably riddled with clichéd scripting. The characters are envisaged as the usual tedious drones using social networking, an unfortunate necessity to encompass the show’s subject matter. A problem appears to run deeper than these forgivable constraints and exposes the fact that that the show suffers from an issue of bland writing, most evident in the character of Laina the mother. She struggles with the keyboard and text talk as a horribly stereotyped Luddite mother finding difficulty in connecting with a younger generation. Even ‘the Today Programme’ has abandoned using pursed lips and befuddled brows when referring to Twitter every five minutes. The image of the hopeless mother has been dragged up from previous uncreative shells and when seen alongside the regurgitated jabber of social networking the main impression is that the script has been cutting corners. The actors still manage to pull off a sterling performance in a show that captures the highs and lows of various troubled lives with an enthralling and emotional conclusion. The messages of the show are well laid-out for easy understanding and are still valid and poignant, while the energy throughout offsets the feeling that the show is lacking in originality.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

Rain

★★★★★

The Forum

★★★

Fire and the Rose

★★★★

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The Blurb

’You can be who you want to be’. An online forum is the perfect place to reinvent yourself, the perfect place to hide, the perfect place to die. A darkly comic drama about the need for human interaction.

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