Cookie Jar – The Space, London

Reviewer: Emily Beech

Writer: Kiran Benawra

Director: Bettina Paris

Kiran Benawra’s Cookie Jar is a snappy 60-minute story that feels like it should be dystopian, but deals with a breadth of issues that are actually very current. Delving into the corruption of fictionalized (Fox News-esq) company Cookie Jar Media, the play presents a commentary on issues of data harvesting, cybercrime, and our rights as individuals to the ownership of our own image.

The play centres around sparky newcomer Cam (Amy Wallace), who is hired to present children’s TV after the scandal surrounding her predecessor Layla, a character who has died before the play starts under circumstances that become increasingly suspicious as we move further into the power dynamics of the Cookie Jar Media workplace. Both Cam and her brash, narcissistic boss Jupiter (David Bibby) are obvious stereotypes and we recognise them as such – the forced charm, ‘cool boss’ character constantly guffawing at his own jokes and his sweet but naïve employee. Thankfully, both Wallace and Bibby are equally strong in both roles, bringing nuance and comedy to characters which might otherwise feel vapid and unconvincing. The rest of the corporate world-building hinges on the skilled and engaging performances by Nadege Nguyen, Jadene Renee Prospere and Kathryn Bond who play the motley crew of Cookie Jar Media employees.

The story is framed as a ‘reconstruction’, playing with the idea that the events really did take place, and we are guided through this reconstruction by an Alexa-style voiceover of artificial intelligence (formally human) character ‘Layla’. This is an on-stage language we immediately understand, and it mostly worked well. The action flits between three spaces: an office, a TV studio, and a bar, with the stage is set up perfectly to facilitate the TV studio scenes in particular – in thrust staging as if we were a live audience on a studio set. The creativity of director Bettina Paris and movement director Emma Rowbotham also shines through best in these scenes.

This play is one act of important critique on our society’s relationship with internet media and the rights we have to our own privacy, in a world where our lives have never been more virtual and oversharing on the internet is the norm. It is framed through a story that is well-paced and expertly performed, incorporating a breadth of story-telling elements with ambition that mostly pays off.

Runs until 1 October 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

A neat, snappy story

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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