BWW Review: YOU TWEET MY FACE SPACE, Theatre N16, January 24 2016
Like the drugs that are so often used as a simile, social media use starts innocently enough, is great fun for a while and then takes a bigger and bigger bite of every day until you're not controlling it, it's controlling you. So you just go cold turkey and everything is all right again, is it? Well, maybe.
The addictive quality of the online life is the subject of You Tweet My Face Space (at Theatre N16 until 28 January) and it's splendid to see a play set in contemporary Britain where people have mobile phones and computers. Amazingly, for all London theatre's remarkable variety and quality, it's rare to see such things on the other side of the fourth wall, plays seemingly easier to write if we all pretend it's still 1990 (or 1967... in the USA).
David (Tom Hartwell, who wrote and produced the play but wisely handed over directing duties to Anne Stoffels) has a hangover and a phone buzzing with notifications after his flatmate uploaded a photo of him being snogged in a bar by an unknown girl. Cue Charlotte, his actual girlfriend, to dump him as his social media sites are given human form to persecute him. It's a clever set-up and the satire is well observed and wincingly truthful - Facebook's ambition the villain again!
The ensemble cast, if a little under-rehearsed at times, share out the laughs (and there are plenty) with a smugly satisfied Hadley Smith impressing as Hotmail and an earnest, funny, ever so slightly tragic Katie Dalzell reaping LOLs as Farmville. Delivered all through at 60 minutes, the conceit never outstays its welcome and, as is very rarely the case, I felt the material could have stood another 20 minutes running time easily.
It won't be the next The Play That Goes Wrong (50-seater to 1500-seater shows arrive once a decade rather than once a year) but with some much needed budget for back-projections of photos and clips and a bit more for Megan King's Charlotte to do - she's somewhat underwritten - it's easy to imagine this comedy playing medium-sized venues to a younger demographic than is often the case in London.
Now - how about a Kickstarter campaign across a range of media platforms...?