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Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World

YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World

Friday 12th March 2021, 7:30pm, KXT

Sam O'Sullivan's newest work, YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL, contemplates the extent to which technology has transformed our lives and our ability to relate to real people. Directed by Samantha Young, this 100-minute work takes ideas that many would have contemplated to some degree and asks the audience to consider them in greater detail as the ability to relate on a human to human basis is shifting in a screen heavy world.

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World
Arkia Ashraf as Dan and Kate Skinner as Ellie (Photo: Kate Williams)

YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL centers on the lives of Dan (Arkia Ashraf) and Ellie (Kate Skinner), a 30-something couple who, after only a few months of dating have decided to rent an apartment together. Dan is an illustrator who works from home while Ellie is starting job as a lawyer at an advertising agency. He acknowledges his reliance on technology, admitting to connecting to the world via 'scrolls' while she wants a screen free bedroom, so she has a space free from the temptation to watch Netflix all night. While Ellie is at work, Dan has hired a dogwalker, a student teacher, April-May (Ariadne Sgouros) who wants a key to the apartment so she can collect Jack Russell Burt when Dan is out. While the face value of the story at first seems straight forward, the questions of who the characters really are gradually unfolds.

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World
Arkia Ashraf as Dan and Ariadne Sgouros as April-May (Photo: Kate Williams)

Just as the first "house rule" centers on the bedroom, set and costume designer Anna Gardiner has Ellie constructing the couple's bed with the piece of furniture dominating the stage. The link to the interconnectivity and consumerism of the 21st century is expressed through ever present mobile phones and laptops and an amazing array of technological detritus suspended from the ceiling, connected to more power points than even the most technology aware architect could imagine. The costuming is kept relatively simple, reinforcing that these are seemingly normal people yet subtly confirming their characters. Dan has a touch of nerdiness, even featuring a Simpson's t-shirt at one stage while the slim blonde Ellie remains relatively plain, even resorting to cozy dressing gown except when she has dressed up for a work function. Curvy, dark haired April-May is presented as a contrast to Ellie with an array of outfits from activewear to youthful and preppy.

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World
Arkia Ashraf as Dan and Kate Skinner as Ellie (Photo: Kate Williams)

Samantha Young has created a well-structured work that keeps the lines suitably blurred till the truths are finally revealed. The difference in movement and use of space for each of the characters holds secrets to the power structures in play and the character's underlying identities. The subtle differences in the way the characters are presented have the audience guessing as to what is really happening, with insight into the reality given in small doses with the aid of Martin Kinnane's lighting design and Kaitlyn Crocker's sound design.

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World
Ariadne Sgouros as April-May and Arkia Ashraf as Dan (Photo: Kate Williams)

O'Sullivan blends in modern philosophical ideas with recognizable experiences and clever comical quips for an intelligent and engaging work that is wonderfully executed by the trio of actors. With a strong degree of realism and natural expression, Kate Skinner captures Ellie's somewhat self-obsessed attitude borne of a belief that her dedication to her job is more important than the house rules because she has a higher paying, more challenging job than Dan. Arkia Ashraf ensures that Dan is seen as somewhat socially inept, awkward, and generally insecure with cautious hesitancy as he follows rather than leads situations but ultimately exposes his naivety, often with brilliantly comic moments. In contrast to Ellie's naturalistic expression, Ariadne Sgouros ensures April-May is presented as realistic but ever so subtly skewed so the audience can sense something is odd with her but can't quite pinpoint it till O'Sullivan deems it time to start feeding the audience clues.

Review: YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL Examines The Extent To Which Technology Has Blurred The Boundaries In The Modern World
Ariadne Sgouros as April-May and Arkia Ashraf as Dan (Photo: Kate Williams)

You're Not Special is a bold warning to not let technology rule our lives while reinforcing the need to differentiate between real and contrived and be present in our real-world interactions. It is a reminder that the expression we see of a person, whether we know them in real life or not is often a carefully curated creation that can vary wildly from their true self and to approach what we find via our screens with caution. Current, comic and captivating, this is an intelligent new work that holds important observations of the modern world.

https://www.rogueprojects.com.au/youre-not-special-kxt


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