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KickItDown’s Digital Sharing 4 brings us the three most interesting pieces of the series so far, experimenting with ideas of perception in dramatically varying styles.
The urge to take an interest in other people’s lives can sometimes be overwhelming; from eavesdropping on conversations during a commute to fixating on the latest reality shows. In Megan Smith’s Twitcher, we see a woman whose interest falls a little closer to home, as she obsesses over the comings and goings of her charming neighbour. What begins as slightly over-engaged observations, quickly explodes into delusions and jealousy.
Peppering the script with great comic moments, Smith manages to twist something quite dark into a highly enjoyable story. Whilst we are used to curtain twitchers being portrayed as elderly, keeping a beady eye on the finer details of the street (I myself have one next door, with an in-depth knowledge of my routine), this twitcher is a younger woman, adding a very interesting dynamic as she details her neighbour’s apartment as though she is writing a crime scene report. Ruth Syratt’s casual delivery (feeling almost ad-lib) is disturbing in all the right ways. She sends a chill down my spine as she mentions things with an offhand attitude, Fatal Attraction coming instantly to mind.
Moving on from the external obsession in Twitcher, Sophia Chetin-Leuner shows us the other side of the coin with an inwardly focused narcissist in Guy/Man/Guy. Trapped in isolation, a man begins to fixate on his body image, blaming it for the loss of his girlfriend and endeavouring to work his stomach off for the perfect Instagram snap.
One of the most interesting things about this piece is its view on male self-esteem (something rarely touched upon in this regard) written from a woman’s perspective. It paints such an interesting picture of masculinity and how much pressure is placed on men to look and act like men. There is a poetic structure to Chetin-Leuner’s text, which is somewhat captured by Ruban Nathan’s theatrical reading. However, his overcoloured performance, bordering on narration, lacks the authenticity that I feel the story deserves, taking away from the overall effect.
Rounding off the streaming is 3800 Miles, a play about two strangers connecting online during the lockdown, written by Ben Lawrence. Ellie and Jay are thrust together through an online chat platform called FastFriends, where they are given just shy of five minutes to learn about one another or end the call early if they aren’t interested in the person they are speaking with.
Lawrence creates a curious challenge from the beginning of the play, posing two characters with seemingly incompatible personalities: one eager to please and engage, the other reserved, with a too-cool-for-school attitude. As a clock sits above their heads counting down the time they have left — like a bizarre gameshow — Jay fights to create a conversation which will uncover something that they can connect over. His eagerness reveals a deep-rooted desire for human contact, something that we are all lacking during these neverending lockdowns. Perdita Ogbourne and Shivi Hotwani, as Ellie and Jay respectively, capture the pace of the scene well, bouncing off each other to keep the momentum driving forward in a captivating scene.
Stuck in perpetual isolation, we have all had the time to reflect at last both on ourselves and those around us. Yes, this has in many cases led to couples splitting and terrible living conditions, but as these three plays show us, it also gives us the room to adapt and grow, seeking out new experiences and relationships to enrich our lives.
Digital Sharing 4 is available to stream online, visit the KickItDown Productions’ website for more information and to watch.