Thursday, February 29

Public Domain – Southwark Playhouse

Written and performed by Francesca Forristal & Jordan Paul Clarke.

Produced and directed by Adam Lenson.

This is a very interesting concept, and the authors are to be commended for their efforts in putting together a very different and challenging piece of theatre. All the text is taken from words spoken and written on the Internet (particularly Facebook) during the past 12 months in an attempt to show a picture of the digital world which we all now inhabit. It is certainly a very fast paced production and describes itself as a “high adrenaline, electronic thrill ride”, which certainly is a fair and accurate description. It could also be described as very dark, giving us a terrifying insight into what the digital world has the potential to become (if it has not already arrived at!).

It was a shame that the production was beset with technical issues which both delayed the start of the streaming and necessitated a restart after only 5 minutes. Although this did not detract from the actual production, hopefully these issues will have been resolved for future performances.

The authors are also the only performers in this production, and I was impressed by the strength of both their characterisations and the quality of their singing. They both play two teenager Facebook “influencers”, a concept I have only recently myself come across, who are viewed across the internet from their audience’s bedrooms. The introduction consists of the 2 actors repeating the phrase “Just like that we felt a little less alone”, then lead us into the worlds that their characters, Millie and “Z”, inhabit. We then have an “At home” with the Zuckerbergs (the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan), giving us a perceived insight into the lifestyle of these pioneers of social media. This then moved on to Mark Zuckerberg being interviewed by the US Senate commission regarding the issue of Facebook privacy and his answers given during this interrogation. As was said towards the end of this section, “Facebook can be sometimes an unkind place”. The production ended with an appearance by the most famous current user of the internet for getting his message across, one Donald Trump!

I have to be honest and say that I found this production at times difficult to follow, I suspect that I am outside the age range for which this performance is aimed. Perhaps the under-35’s would find it easier and I have to admit to being well past that age group! I think this was a challenging concept and the authors have made a bold attempt to use the material at their disposal to present what is certainly a non-traditional piece of musical theatre, so all credit to them for that. A special mention should go to the show’s technical producer, Christian Czornyj, for the wizardry that brought the production to life.

An encore stream of ‘Public Domain’ will be available to view from Tuesday 19th – Sunday 24th January with this link

Reviewer: David S. Clarke                                           

Reviewed: 15th January 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★