“Online/off-line: people aren’t always who they seem to be. So how can you tell when things ‘Click?'” This is the subject matter of Dafydd James’ new play; featuring young people from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Wales. It explores in an emotional and comical way, how social networking and the online world as a whole has affected the way we communicate, and with who.
The essence of the show is that young people from 13 years old (the minimum age for sites such as Facebook) right through to young adults understand the world that is being explored – a sort of separate platform that runs parallel to our own. However, the danger of parallel worlds is that they can, and often do mix.
I’m sure WICID members reading this will know that Facebook, particularly, is now a world of gossip – “Did you hear so and so is pregnant?”, “No way, how do you know?”, “Facebook!” or “I’m worried about ‘Joe Bloggs’”, “Why?”, “Look what he put on Facebook.” Friendship groups, and even family are being involved in arguments which stemmed from people putting personal information or indirect, passive updates – and relationship statuses, don’t get me started!
‘Click’ follows a group of young people who meet and communicate over the internet – we have Ellie and her brother Sam, who often Skype as he lives in Australia, while she lives in England. Ellie also meets George, a girl from Hong Kong, and the pair form an online romance – not forgetting her brother who falls hopelessly in love with Cathy, a girl he met online also.
Then we have Isaac; the camp, fashion student who escaped life on a Welsh farm to live the high-life in London – his interactions are on “Gaydar” (a dating site) where ‘Bulldog2000′ throws abuse at him. He also stays in touch with George, because the pair are involved in a Fashion Exchange as part of their course.
Alongside these people, we have ‘Welsh Ninja’ – a Youtube sensation whom they all LOVE, but who in real-life is badly bullied.
Quite cleverly, we have the two characters of Abe and Vicky who meet, by chance, as Vicky falls and calls for help, realising upon Abe’s arrival she is actually in labour! The real-life chance meeting is an identical set-up to that of the online meet-ups, which reiterates the impact the internet is having on human relationships.
We watch as the different partnerships grow and grow, and how news spreads and videos go viral with screenshots of Facebook and other websites projected onto the backdrop.
The stage craft of the show is genius – no stage, just furniture, so the actors are on level with you: drawing you into their cyber-world and lives, much as chat-rooms do. You are as involved in their issues as you could be, because chances are you can recognise and empathise with all the narrative action.
The narrative is compelling, fast-paced and engaging, with lines delivered that’ll make you laugh, choke-up and leave you wanting more. Delivered by some of the best young actors I have ever seen, portraying each of their respective characters as individuals. In a word, superb!
John McGrath, National Theatre Wales said: “Click from Dafydd James and Mess up the Mess: very special – witty, wise and a bit wicked. Youth Theatre at it’s best.” And I have to say I quite agree. From the directing to the acting, to the simplicity they brought to such a complicated set of social conventions and crossed-wires. I laughed, I cringed, I worried and I enjoyed!
For more information on Mess up the Mess please visit www.messupthemess.co.uk or contact them on 01269 591167.