An infuriated woman whose sister falls victim to revenge porn. A man who develops a porn addiction as a result of a failing marriage. And another lonely girl. These are just some of the voices we hear in Blush, honest and exposed under piercing lights and blinding flash photography.
Snuff Box Theatre’s most recent punch-bag, directed by Edward Stambollouian, is ruthless and faultlessly slick in both its content and style. It’s a play of our technological day, providing a gritty, yet almost poetic insight into five characters and their experience of revenge porn. This production succeeds where others have failed to express the urgency and fricative irony of grappling with raw emotions through the barrier of an online screen.
A glaring red, Ted Talk-esque, circular carpet bears the brunt of the words, holding at its nucleus the interweaving monologues which surge and bleed into our attentive ears. The actors use its shape to their physical advantage; the show begins with actress Charlotte Josephine jogging round the perimeter of the carpet like a loading symbol, before entering the arena to begin the first story-strand. Only a bell is needed to indicate an online notification, and a variety of lighting states from on-stage sources allow for plentiful scenarios as relationships and reputations are gradually destroyed.
Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith unite in a formidable partnership, working in impressive symbiosis. Josephine, doubling as Blush’s writer, particularly commands her script which cascades from her lips with captivating energy, powerfully embodying her differentiated characters, entirely believable within the stylised context. Whilst the female stories are meatier on the bone than their male counterparts, perhaps this is telling of the undeniable gender implications of porn.
The sum of these building blocks allow for a chilling climax, as the dedicated performers run on the spot after a number of flowing physical transitions, now merged in their experiences as they share the same lines in different worlds. Their vocal flow is now fragmented against their blushed faces, as if physically realizing the weight of our online comments, words dripping as beads of sweat and heavy breathing.
The rapidity of pace needed to execute this sequence means that the remaining plotlines suffer in the haze of the aftermath. However, Josephine wisely leaves the ending of these stories untied, thankfully avoiding a preaching attitude and rather letting us make what we will of these stories, asking quite honestly where we go from here.
I leave feeling exhausted, my left pocket mobile heavy, bombarded by the burden of data to which we numbly expose ourselves every day. Blush gives shape to the extremity of human attitude in the wake of technology, where revenge is no longer sweet, but ‘sugar-coated’.
Blush is playing at the Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61), until August 28 August. For more information and tickets, see the Underbelly website..