Writer: Katie Bonna
Audio Design: Annie May Fletcher & Eamonn O’Dwyer
Director: Amelia Sears
Working in the world of children’s parties and entertainment is painful, to say the least. Never happy, pompous, and entitled (and that’s just the parents), Kapow party events try their hardest to keep the children occupied, but there’s a big problem – well, several. First and foremost, the company is dated, peddling goblins and princesses to a generation of woke children who want nothing more than quinoa, diversity, and reusable cups. Then there’s the boss – she’s a bitch and makes Anna’s life a misery as she struggles for minimum wage and happiness.
Following one abysmal party where the little cherubs call out the sexist nature of male goblins, it hits her. Anna has had enough; she wants to take command of her life and re-direct the company towards a more diverse programme to accommodate the yuppies and the yah-yahs.
Writer and performer Katie Bonna make no bones about the origins of the production, like countless others, The Entertainment was conceived as an in-person stage production, converted into the digital audio world due to the pandemic. And yet, unlike so many where the shift in medium causes tensions or difficulties – The Entertainment, if anything, excels more in the audio format than it may have done in-person.
And this lies within the poetry and semi-lyrical nature of the script in delusional moments. Anna’s sessions of ‘self’ are integral to the show’s success, visceral in construct and speak to the twisted nature we all imagine but refrain from tapping into. Bonna writes what people think – hopefully with a touch of exaggeration concerning the bloodshed. More than this, they dig deep into primal aggression against those who have supposedly wrong us, manipulating our thoughts into something more comforting to stay within.
But how can unspeakable acts of aggression and belittling of people be in any way appealing to listen to? Well, Bonna has that covered. Anna is relatable, a dead-end job and a fascination and fixation on what is missing, unable to control even the tiniest details in her life. Amelia Sear’s direction drives Bonna to her peak, though in moments, certain characters come over as one-dimensional, the only distinct limitation of the audio direction, where listeners cannot take full advantage of physical expressions.
Taking full advantage of The Entertainment uprooting and moving into an audio realm, the audio design captures the Hyper-realistic exaggerations of menial noises. Alarm clocks, glass breaking, buzzing, even modulation of voices for more psychosis driven moments, the work behind the script is exceptional and oddly draws a connection with Anna – the more infuriated she becomes, the more understandable her mindset is.
A sensationalist look at the dangers of self-fabrications and underappreciating what actually surrounds us, there’s one harrowingly well-conceived moment in the writing as Anna desperately wants Justine (her imagined love interest) to leave her alone, just so that she can imagine the idealised version of her. The Entertainment arguably works better within this unexpected packing as it could stage, tapping into a sensory audio experience that gives depth to its principal character and a bloodlust worth listening to.
Available on demand with Summerhall until 29 August 2021 | Image: Contributed