It is rather apt that a show set in a church hall should be played out in The Space – a converted church on the Isle of Dogs. The ability to perform Anonymous Anonymous anywhere is one of the piece’s strengths, since its minimal scenery or props means the group for people with internet addictions can meet pretty much anywhere.
What all the members of this group, who meet weekly, have in common is that all of them are – or at some point in their lives have been – addicted to the internet. Be it shopping on Amazon, posting viral YouTube videos, using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, the scale with which we now communicate via the web is at an all-time high. But, in order to overcome this addiction, what Sam, Aaliyah, Allison, George and Michael all need is to talk to real life people.
Recently, there has been a great number of shows about the internet and Generation Y, but of those that I’ve seen, this new writing by Philip Carter Lindsey doesn’t add that much more to the conversation. Of course, the standard practice of those sharing their stories is part of the addict’s road to recovery, and through these monologues we meet Aaliyah, a lifestyle blogger who wants to stage a coup; George, a cyberstalker who is suspiciously quiet; and Michael, who craves validation by video views. Whilst each of these have their own stories, none of them seem to act as a springboard for further discussion about the addictions each of them have.
What we see instead is a series of activities designed by leader Allison to help the addicts achieve badges, and prove their slow recovery. These are rather drawn out, and feel out of place in comparison to the rest of the piece. Part way through the group take a break: here we see overlapping conversations between several characters, which is frustrating to watch and doesn’t help to further the audience’s journey with them, because it is impossible to hear what each person is saying. Petty arguments between Aaliyah and Allison also become overwrought.
Whilst the premise is restrictive, director Grace Gummer’s vision for the piece is simple yet effective in its squared staging, and praise should be given to several of the actors. Kimesha Campell as Sam in her understated acting début and Jackson Pentland as George are the glue that holds the piece together.
Whilst Anonymous Anonymous has the potential to create a really thought-provoking and interesting debate surrounding the addictions to social media and the road to recovery, it falls slightly short of the mark at this early production. With some tweaks though, I’m sure it will be a great starting point for future dialogue.
Anonymous Anonymous is playing at The Space until the 27 June. For more information and tickets, see The Space website.