Review: INSULT TO INJURY, Lion & Unicorn Theatre

The production runs until 13 April

By: Apr. 05, 2024
Review: INSULT TO INJURY, Lion & Unicorn Theatre
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Review: INSULT TO INJURY, Lion & Unicorn Theatre

“It’s all a game, isn’t it?”

Written by Kieran Dee and Grace Millie, who also star as Ellis and Kat respectively, and directed by Harriet Marsh, Insult to Injury tells the story of two content moderators on a famous social media site and how they deal with “misinformation, technology, responsibility, power and eating other people’s sins.”

Ellis has been working with the company as Head of Trust and Safety for years, having begun in the company’s warehouse where people manually go through and remove posts that violate the terms and conditions. At the start of the show, it’s Kat’s first day in the office after working in Integrity for FIFA.

From the first scene, we begin to delve into the main theme of the show - how can one keep a social media site open for free spech while still keeping users safe from disturbing content? Ellis, who has years of experience, has become numb to the horrors, while Kat, an Oxford scholar, wants to implement some new things in the company like taking the Impicit Association Test and implrementing a “review queue” so moderators are able to approve posts before they are allowed on the site. There are also some debates between the two on using AI software versus human moderators for this content, bringing up a few interesting ethical debates that, unfortunately, are not explored much further. 

Dee and Millie have a friendly rapport as Ellis and Kat, with most of their conversations typically being banter. When it gets serious, however, Millie is left doing most of the emotional labour while Dee looks on. In darker scenes where both Ellis and Kat are receiving hate after being called out by the Prime Minister themselves (a strange choice), Kat is the one doing the most reacting. I would have loved to see more reactions from Ellis, as even though he has seen lots of things as one of the “sin eaters” in The Warehouse, he and Kat have been working together for a long time and he should be able to portray some level of empathy. 

But, just as things are starting to get better, things take a turn when Vos ends up buying out the entire company, putting Ellis and Kat’s jobs in jeopardy, though the vow to stay and “fight for what is right.” On the programme, it states, “Elon Musk? Never heard of him.” The character of Vos, played by NICK HARDIE, however, is a nearly identical stand-in for the man, with a few additions most likely inspired by influencers like Mr. Beast.

Though I enjoyed Hardie’s acting, the character is bizarre and quite unbelievable with the sheer level of evil he exudes. While some of the ideas he comes up with are inspired by real things Musk has done, including removing verification and making people pay for the “blue tick,” which has led to more misinformation, Dee and Millie take him to the next level of villainy with some truly horrible things that had me cringing. 

Without going into too many spoilers for the ending, it is quite disappointing and left me dissatisfied with the choices made. There were quite a few opportunities for Dee and Millie to go deeper into what seemed to be the main theme of the show at first, the ethics of censorship and the roles that technology and humanity play within the industry of social media. I would have loved for there to have been more about The Warehouse workers who are forced to consume horrifying content, or even more about Ellis’s experiences working there. Instead, we focus on the Musk-like Vos and go over topics that we have been hearing about for years. 

Insult to Injury feels like it is a way of getting one’s frustrations about technology and social media out without adding anything to the conversation. I would have liked for both Dee and Millie to make more of a statement with the work, leaving the audience with something to think about instead of simply being frustrated with the current state of the world. 

Insult to Injury runs until 13 April at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre.


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