EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: JERICHO, Underbelly Cowgate
In Jericho, an Irish online journalist struggles to focus on her assigned article on professional wrestling.
As she disappears down a digital rabbit hole of research and procrastination, the show branches off into an examination of social media, fake news, and debate in the digital age. She finds in her subject a black-and-white morality that appeals as she tries to make sense of a post-truth landscape, where clicks are more important than facts and fake news goes viral in a flash.
Malaprop Theatre's new play takes on the state of the world and its digital discourse. Jericho is a cleverly conceived work, ringing true with the notion of millennials as the most educated generation in history, yet one too often distracted by cute cat videos, over-analysing pop culture or arguing in the comments section, rather than setting out to challenge the grand injustices of our age.
The form of the show cleverly matches that of the digital think-piece, carefully curating disparate cultural threads into a fascinating feed. Pop culture references fly thick and fast, from the inexplicable popularity of ASMR videos to fake headlines about Elon Musk kicking a swan, all infusing the show with a light humour. The design supports this sense of being overloaded with information with headlines and speaking mouths projected onto Molly O'Cathain's cleverly simple set.
Malaprop's production has a lovely self-aware style, from a chatty opening as Maeve O'Mahony's central character strives for the perfect piece of entrance music, to offering audience members cookies, commenting that the pack only had to last out the weekend's performances.
O'Mahony is an engaging, energetic performer, nicely contrasting with the sedate technical designer John Gunning doubling as the ASMR sensation she lives with. Her pace adeptly represents the feeling of being overwhelmed by the relentless dilemmas of the age, both moral and practical, and, as the show puts it, of having to run just to stay in place.
Overall, this is an intriguing piece in both form and content, highly relevant and exceedingly thought-provoking. It neatly captures the zeitgeist of trying to find a moral compass in an era when slapping text on an image and putting it on Facebook makes something real. In Jericho, Malaprop Theatre have created a compelling reflection of our modern world seen through a lens of our own making.
Jericho's run has now finished.