Writers/Directors: Matt Rogers and Natalie Bellingham
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
Incoming Festival recently landed in Manchester. Before you know it the festival is almost finished, ready to take off until next year. Tonight’s offering is Uncanny Theatre’s last show of Outrage.
This is a contemporary performance, performed in a presentational style, about social media and how everyone wants to be famous. Originally a performance about anger, it has transformed into a reckless and impulsive game of attention seeking. With the help of the audience, Rogers and Bellingham will do anything on this game show set to trend on Twitter, because that is the most important thing in the world. As you can probably guess, phones were allowed to be switched on during the performance, and you could tweet as much as you wanted about the show using #OutrageShow. This reviewer did just that for some of the time. They took time out of the show to read the tweets to the audience too.
Anyone viewing the #OutrageShow posts on Twitter will probably be thinking what are these meaningless photographs and tweets about this random show. However, with the full context provided, you can appreciate how clever, conceptual, and meaningful Outrage really is. There are so many concepts unpacked in this performance, which are explored through text and action.
Firstly, how do people become famous? Social media plays a big part these days and it would appear like there is no such thing as bad publicity. It seems like it’s easy to become famous for doing stupid things or essentially doing nothing meaningful. Social media plays on our inner competitiveness and our craving to rank ourselves in a social hierarchy. Hence the line, “Don’t look at her, look at me” or the let’s play a game of who has got the most Twitter followers in the audience.
On the contrary, the positives of social media are investigated. For example, it helps you to stay connected with people you might not usually spend time, it’s effective for self-promotion and exposure, and the online Ice Bucket Challenge was a successful charity campaign for the ALS association. Saying that, as the performance demonstrated, there are some challenges which are potentially harmful or even dangerous. These can be a bad influence for children, and it reminds you people are willing to do anything to become famous.
A brilliantly annoying moment in the performance is when Bellingham leads an activity of meditation and mindfulness with the audience. Immediately, you are reminded about all the memes and random people on social media insisting on telling you how to live your life. Like on social media, this production is constantly bombarding you with an overload of information. In the process, you become aware of living in a fast-paced world, where it’s like we all have a short attention span. Social media becomes an escape from your own problems or the suffering around us; it becomes a platform to make other people suffer and take things too far. Finally, the performance cleverly makes light of the parallels between social media and religion. Linking the idea of followers, worshipping celebrities, and bringing together communities of people.
With this production the audience were manipulated by the performers: they told us what to think, who to hate (maybe the wrong people), and how to feel. We fell once again, into this trap, into this game. This is an intelligent, political piece of theatre which is thought-provoking, visually messy, and playfully crazy. It made this reviewer: laugh, smile, feel entertained, angry, shocked, sad, flabbergasted, and impressed. Now, we are connected.
Reviewed on: Friday 6th July 2018 | Image: Contributed