User Not Found

Amid the hubbub of cafe chatter and the hiss of milk steaming a mobile phone vibrates with messages of condolences.Terry (Terry Donovan) is about to get a lesson in 21st century grief - his ex-boyfriend, Luka, has died and left Terry in charge of his social media accounts as his ‘online legacy executor’. Should they be preserved or deleted? And how does Luka’s online persona match-up to Terry’s remembered version of him?

Phones may be good but they’re no substitute for holding someone’s hand.

Chris Goode’s monologue meanders down memory lane, gently exploring loneliness, grief, and intimacy in an age where we’re supposedly more connected to each other than ever. The unhurried pace allows Terry’s mourning to develop naturally, finding meaning in the mundane as bereavement is wont to do. Terry’s stream of consciousness is mediated via a set of headphones to each audience member who’s also handed a smartphone that pings with notifications and allows us to see the virtual traces Luka has left behind. Far from being a gimmick it’s ideally suited to placing the audience into Terry’s isolated position whilst being surrounded by other people experiencing the exact same thing.

The layered sound design complements Terry’s performance whilst also gently reminding us that the reality we’re experiencing is just as airbrushed as the Luka we see on our screens. With the lighting design less is more, using only a few table lamps, fairy lights and hidden colour strips to add to the atmosphere and plunge us further into Terry’s internal turmoil.

Theatre is ultimately a form that depends upon human interaction to survive and director, Daphna Attias, clearly understands this, guiding Terry’s performance with the technology to create a quietly profound meditation on intimacy. In the end it seems that the fundamentals of loss and grief never really change, all that does is the tools we have at our disposal to cope with it. Phones may be good but they’re no substitute for holding someone’s hand.

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

UNCONDITIONAL

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Daughter

★★★
Pleasance Dome

Lights Over Tesco Car Park

★★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Chase Scenes

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

It's the moment of your death. There's a magic button. Do you delete your entire online legacy? Or do you keep it and leave the choice for someone else? User Not Found is about our digital identities after we die. This new play by celebrated site-specific company Dante or Die and pioneering writer Chris Goode is performed in Jeelie Piece cafe, through smartphones and headphones; become a fly on the wall as one man is faced with keeping or deleting. A story of contemporary grief unfolds through this intimate, funny performance that interrogates our need for connection.