The rise of the internet over the last few decades has had untold effects on how we live and interact with one another; unsurprisingly, this has offered plenty of artists fertile ground for making work about the human condition today. Often these artistic examinations of the internet can feel tired, either reminding us of what we already know, or scaremongering – insisting that we’re worse off, and worse people for using the internet at all.
Thank God then for Yve Blake, who embraces the internet for all its potential to unite, connect and share. Blake welcomes with open arms the opportunity to engage with people across the world, and discover what life is like for them in a way we never could have before, thanks to the internet. As a part of the generation who barely remembers what life was like before the world wide web, Blake accepts its place in our lives and mines it for all the artistic gold she can. The result is shows like Lie Collector, currently playing at the Vault Festival, which follows hot on the heels of her successful debut Then, which last year hit the Vaults, the BAC and the Soho Theatre for sold-out runs.
Lie Collector sees Blake collecting and collating lies that internet users have anonymously shared with her, weaving them into a performance through song, wonderfully flamboyant costumes and occasional high-energy dance breaks. Picking up on the trends she finds (such as numerous contributions about the lies we tell children at bedtime) Blake transforms people’s fibs and fabrications into lyrical explorations of not only what those lies are – most often hilarious and incredibly relatable – but what they say about the people who tell them, and about us as audience members in our reaction to them.
Blake is a wonderful performer: likeable and sweet, but with sharp comic timing and a gutsy voice that is a pleasure to listen to. Indeed, Lie Collector is an incredibly fun hour of witty, relevant songs, accompanied by incredibly well-designed costumes and projections, which make the event a true visual feast. And what Blake discovers about the lies we tell and why, particularly in the digital age with our carefully-crafted online personas, really offers food for thought afterwards. Yes, most of us tell little white lies from time to time – we’ve all at some point surreptitiously stolen a drop of our housemate’s milk for our cup of tea – but these days with phenomena like social media, has lying become a cultural norm? Are we lying so much and so often we barely know we’re doing it anymore?
If there were any small complaint to be made about Lie Collector, it would be that, for all its fun and frivolity, as it goes on we do start to crave more of an emotional hook – that deeper level of the more personal and profound effects that lying, and baring one’s soul on the internet, can have. Amid the laughter, we’re looking for that punch in the guts that Blake delivered with Then, which truly took its audience on an emotional journey from light to dark. Here, it is slightly pushed to one side to make way for the comedy and costumes.
Nonetheless, Lie Collector is perfect late night entertainment: an hour spent with a warm, loveable performer who offers laughs aplenty while hitting on numerous universal truths about what life is like today. Blake’s ethos of treating her work as a co-collaboration with internet users and her audience alike makes the event feel truly special and unique, something few shows in London can boast, and making this one well worth a look.
Lie Collector is playing at the Vault Festival until 1 March. For more information and tickets, see the Vault Festival website.