Blush – Soho Theatre, London

Writer: Charlotte Josephine
Director: Ed Stambollouian
Reviewer: Stephen Bates

A circle of bright red carpeting centre stage establishes the themes of Charlotte Josephine’s blistering assault on an era in which the human race is forever finding new ways to embarrass itself. Blush we should at the antics of a society in which, seemingly, all established norms of decent behaviour are cast aside behind the shield of a computer screen.

Jtell-us-block_editedosephine’s writing is as angry as the first character that appears, a woman whose 18-year-old sister has had revenge porn images posted on social media. 30,000 viewers have seen the images and the woman longs to gouge out 30,000 pairs of eyes and squelch them under her bare feet. A self-conscious woman, wanting to look like photographic models, finds that she can make herself appear more beautiful in erotic selfies and then she has to endure the torment of them going “vinyl” after the puts them online. A woman is distraught in a supermarket when the “boyfriend” that she has been sexting vanishes into thin air quicker than she can decide whether to buy bio or non-bio washing powder.

The play sees dated gender stereotyping clashing with modern behaviour, but it does not entirely relate stories of male aggressors and female victims. A high-flying web designer explains to an international seminar why social media sites can trigger addictive behaviour and then he falls victim to his own trap following an inappropriate advance to an attractive student. Another man finds that readily available internet porn is making him impotent. The conflicts and contradictions caused by technology advancing too rapidly are shown again when a bemused father objects to the explicit sex education given at school to his 13-year-old daughter, thereby attempting to block measures aimed at protecting her.

Ed Stambollouian’s racing 70-minute production affirms Josephine’s stark vision. The swirl of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tinder and the rest is made to appear more as a giant spider’s web, entrapping its victims, than a worldwide web. Josephine herself and Daniel Foxsmith attack all the roles with vigour, expressing rage and trepidation through words and expressive movement. The play does not point the finger of blame at governments nor even at the giant corporations. It is a startling wake-up call, telling us all that, individually and collectively, we need to recognise the destructive power of a modern monster and come to terms with it,

Runs until 4 June 2017 | Image: Contributed

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