Faceless Review

Faceless is an ‘anti-social media drama’ from the new innovative stage school Characters. It plays at Wiltshire’s Arc Theatre on the 6th and 7th July 2013

Nine months ago, children from Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and local areas auditioned to become part of an exciting piece of work from Characters director Moira Townsend-Williams. Directed by Suzie Latham, the result is a fresh and sophisticated play, expressed through the voice of youth today. It had me riveted from the start.

The year is 2045 and protagonist Evie, played by the highly talented Isobel Pitman, is struggling with the world of technology she finds herself engulfed in. Evie’s family only have cyber eyes for the virtual world, despite Evie’s best efforts of distraction. Let’s just say there’s not much living going on in the living room. One really feels for Evie and her need for human interaction. I felt that without it she, and the rest of the human species would simply grind to a halt. Evie is asked ‘why are you talking? why not put it on Facebook?’ Evie does find some respite with her friend Jack and his family (they even play charades) although this is short-lived.

Background newsflashes remind the audience of the age we’re in: ‘worlds last penguin found on motorway’.  It’s a world where the only music known is that of ringtones.

Although in parts dark, and worryingly believable, humour is a-plenty, including a poignant yet hilarious wedding scene where in 2045, you make your declarations to your LWW and LWH.  Don’t worry if you’re not au fait with today’s text speak, there are handy translations on the back screen.

Enjoy a trip to the Click Click Click Clinic, set up for those addicted to technology.  Techno-busting activities include trying to read a (real) book, albeit to the cries of YHAL (you’re having a laugh) when asked to give up their mobiles phones for five minutes.

Look out for the ‘Agents’, reminiscent of the Blues Brothers, the musical, comedic and cinematic legend.

The play is futuristic, however not unimaginatively so, which makes it all the more easy to become engrossed in. Intelligent, and thought-provoking, it had this reviewer trying to hide her iPad, and reach for her pencil and notepad.  I could imagine watching this in thirty years time and it just being a regular fly-on-the-wall documentary.

With haunting music and fabulous choreography, this is a hugely ambitious piece of work for the young performers, but no other age group could have played it and with such skill and aplomb.

Faceless reaches out to everyone. One scene in particular is one that many mothers out there will identify with.  Evie’s mum makes the point that hiding behind technology was an easier option than mothering, especially being able to avoid ‘all the endless questions’ .   When the mother reminisces about a time of picnics, the sea and knitting, you almost want to run out and take deep breaths so as not to miss another second of living. Many people will enjoy seeing a 70s turn-table on set. The records alone were enough to send me into my own private reverie.

As you can gather, with every scene a winner, I enjoyed it enormously, and will not be surprised to see Faceless playing in the West End.

Buy your tickets now, for fomo*

*fear of missing out