EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: BEEP BOOP, Assembly George Square
Described as "a multimedia clown show", beep boop is a comic examination of technology's place in our lives. Taking aim at phone addiction, the performative nature of social media and the perils of online dating, it asks, in a world where technology has brought us closer together, why do we still feel so lonely?
Physical comedian Richard Saudek is an exceptional performer, whether in terms of his comical rubber-faced gurning, or fantastically controlled flexible physicality. beep boop allows him to showcase a range of his skills in a narrative weaving together loosely linked scenes focusing on his interactions with the most common items of technology in our lives.
To this end, the production makes excellent use of electronic items as props, from phone screen spotlights to a laptop slideshow as the background for a finger walking scene, cleverly integrating form and content. The soundtrack, by Jesse Novak, could be considered the second performer of the show. Cleverly conceived and expertly cued, it adds a great deal of comedy and enjoyment to the performance, giving Saudek plenty of material to bounce off with his exaggerated reactions.
Some segments of the piece are stronger than others, and it is the sweeter moments of finding connections through technology, such as an imagined life with an audience member found via a dating app, that prove to be the highlights. As such, it seems like a missed opportunity that most of the scenes have little comment on the issue of technology beyond noting how obsessed modern society is with our smartphones and gadgets.
Nevertheless, this is a production that is ripe with humour and exquisitely realised. Like a Facebook feed on a slow day, beep boop may not offer anything especially novel in terms of content, but it certainly keeps us happily engrossed.