High-speed, high-tech, high hopes: Tagged opens strongly with an enjoyably frantic onslaught of likes, pokes and pings – a quick-fire bombardment of disgusting boasts, declarations of love, harsh hash tags, check-ins and fall-outs. In essence, all the effervescent ramble of the ever-present Facebook phenomena is addressed at first affectionately and then with growing seriousness by debut playwright Craig Macdonald. This confident three-hander from New Celts entwines the online and real-life activities of trio to form an intriguing but ultimately disappointing tale that puts our internet addictions under some much-needed scrutiny.
The characters of Tagged are recognisable enough from our own newsfeeds: there’s the troubled and eager-to-please recluse (Kimberley Joyce) who checks in at ‘home’ far too often, feisty party-girl and source of some truly filthy sexual innuendo (Kizzy Lindasy), and finally the lovelorn, walking internet P.D.A played to perfection by Macdonald himself. Spot-on delivery and snappy direction makes the first half of Tagged an immersive and poignant journey through the relatively mundane trials and tribulations of these twenty-somethings’ lives, rendered comic or tragic by a merciless commentary of put-downs and man-ups. Macdonald’s script impresses because it neatly acknowledges all the barely-contained anxiety of overwhelmingly invasive social media with a subtle clarity. In the resonant monologues of Kimberly Joyce’s endearingly fragile shut-in, Macdonald’s writing cleverly gauges what it means to witness life (or the semblance of it) on the internet, rather than simply living it for yourself. Her agitated speeches reveal the subsequent paralysis of envy and resentment, “I want to do everything..I don’t want to do anything!” and the quiet but poignant desperation behind that all-too-familiar status update, “Anyone want to go out for a drink?… Anyone?”
Sadly, Tagged loses power when the action goes offline. It is, however, undoubtedly admirable that with almost no set, the cast skilfully conjure the drunken joy of a spontaneous night out when the three finally all meet, and there is a lovely sense of genuine warmth between the trio that suggests, with surprising optimism, that Facebook really is capable of connecting people. But the horrific eventual fate of the intensely likeable if overly-sharing Kizzy Lindsay makes an uncomfortable comment on the consequences of being a sexually-liberated and forward female, leaving the other two to embark upon an endearing but rather too predictable relationship as a result. As Tagged turns into an over-sentimental and over-simplified celebration of friendship, it loses its winning incisiveness – drifting a little too far away from its initial target, only to strike a far less devastating hit.
*** – 3/5 stars
Tagged played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at C venues