Writer/Director: David M. deLeon &Esther Ko
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
Millennials take a lot of flack. Self-centered, glued to their mobile devices, and speaking a language that only they understand. Perhaps that is why Clickbait is so refreshing a piece of theatre. Created and performed by a group of Hunter College theatre students, employing live web feeds, audience interaction, and simple narrative to shine light on the issues surrounding youth suicides, the disconnect between online and real life, and truth in journalism, Clickbait tells the story of one young woman’s alleged suicide falsely reported by the college newspaper, and the fallout among a particular group of students.
With innovative staging, the audience is surrounded by the action at all times. Employed with varying degrees of success, the entire gallery is the playing space and the stage is wherever the main action is taking place at that moment.
Rarely would one expect to be encouraged to use one’s phone at the theatre, and this reviewer didn’t have the battery life to participate. As others logged onto the show’s website, allegedly seeing the same things that were being broadcast on the two television screens in-house/on stage, one can’t help but wonder if those that are looking at their phones are missing out on the live show, or if those watching the live show are missing out by not looking at their phones, which is a well-constructed comment on the so-called “Fear Of Missing Out” that has become prevalent among active users of social media.
The characters toe the line between archetypal, and fully fleshed out human beings, which makes it hard to care about what happens to them. There is an effort, however, to give each player both positive and negative qualities, pushing the audience to not see any one story line in black and white, and to hopefully decide for themselves how they feel about the characters’ choices and actions.
Shoved into the script, without necessarily offering anything to the production, are terms and words that didn’t exist even five years ago, e.g. sexting. Fitting the overall exploration of online culture and how it seeps into daily life, there was unfortunately a tendency to go overboard, squeezing in as many of these new words as possible, just for the sake of using them. It is great, though, to see young adults commenting on their culture, asking the questions they are so often accused of ignoring, and simultaneously raising awareness, concern, and money for a very real life issue.
Profits from Clickbait will go to The JED Foundation, promoting emotional health and suicide prevention among college students. Audience members are encouraged to make donations via text at the end of the show.
Runs until 14th September 2014