Age-Sex-Location review at Riverside Studios London
Computer genius Dave, the protagonist of internet entrepreneur turned playwright Marcus Markou’s dark comedy, is trying to create a utopia in cyberspace. He envisages a digital fantasia where people will be able to explore their identities, bend their genders and find their true selves.
Dave’s Freetopia is certainly liberating for lardy, put-upon northerner Trevor (Ewen MacIntosh), who is able to reinvent himself online as svelte glamourpuss Treviana. And it also offers fulfilment for quadriplegic Rose Thorn, played by Katherine Jakeways, who is able to escape her wheelchair-bound corporeal self and find ecstatic relief in joyfully obscene dominatrix fantasies.
But this imaginary digital territory has less to offer Amber Agar’s shy Chicagoan Minnie Mouse, who has fallen in love online with Ed Stoppard’s inhibited Dave and now wants to meet him face to face – much to his dismay.
Meanwhile Omer Barnea’s enigmatic hacker Gus, a spiky hobgoblin-like figure who may or may not be Freetopia’s ghost in the machine, is busy sowing mischief in cyberspace.
Moving as it does between real and virtual worlds, Markou’s play presents considerable challenges. Director Pip Pickering and his collaborator, video designer Sven Ortel, have gone for a high-tech fix, using a battery of TV monitors to display web pages and embody chat-rooms.
The pair do a serviceable job of synchronising the cast with projections of their virtual selves but the technology actually does the actors – and the audience – a disservice. The characters’ words allow the imagination to take flight, the overly complex staging sometimes sends it crashing to earth.
Indeed, the play’s staging goes against the grain of its rather predictable conclusion. As Dave ultimately learns, despite the liberating possibilities of cyberspace, there comes a time when we have to get to grips with the real world.
Riverside Studios, London, February 2-28
- Marcus Markou
- Pip Pickering
- Titus Media, Paul Savident
- Cast includes
- Ed Stoppard, Amber Agar, Omer Barnea, Katherine Jakeways, Ewen MacIntosh, Richard Durden, Jane How
- Running time
- 1hr 45mins