Hear what the Purple Moon Drama Reviews team have to say about the latest theatre and performance around London.
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“St Luce and Odunjo are simply phenomenal actresses, and movers that do not drop a beat! I am eager to see more black female double-handers on London stages.” - Joy Adeogun
Just missed it? Not to worry! It's on tour! Whether you are a vivid user of online social media platforms, or not clued up about what the ‘youth’ are using these days, here is why you should feel gutted that you missed Rachel Ofori’s FLIP! at Soho Theatre.
The play was undoubtedly dynamic and energised. From the opening of the show we were enthralled by Carleen (Leah St Luce) and Crystal (Jadesola Odunjo) best friends, who vocalise “whatever [they] want” on their ‘no-filter’ podcast channel. We were instantly immersed into their online-absorbed world of content, trends and videos detailing fifteen steps to healthier skin, taking the place of their loyal-fan following from our comfy audience seats. However, with the couple’s increasing internet fame, their already shaky moral stances, metaphorically speaking, ‘leave the chat’. Carleen, initially feeling quite strongly about the threat of ‘Nano-bounce’ (An AI-type software mining personal data), seems rather happy to sign her personal identity away when asked to simply “collect a cheque.” And Crystal, who was perhaps the more eager of the pair to become something online, disappears. Literally leaving through the fire-exit, promptly after being cancelled and replaced by her ‘so-called-friend’.
Aline David’s movement direction, though sadly only appearing occasionally throughout the show, really ignited the piece! The opening ‘scrolling’ movement sequence was wonderful and flung the audience into the mechanical, mesmerising online world. Needless to say, St Luce and Odunjo are simply phenomenal actresses, and movers that do not drop a beat! - or miss any of their hefty lines. Together, they are intensely watchable, and maintain a strong natural rapport together throughout this double-hander. I am eager to see more black female double-handers on London stages. Also keep an out for the returning Queens of Sheba where Odunjo will grace the stage with her talent once again!
The performance was very fast-paced, perhaps too fast-paced? It moved quickly from online platforms ‘We Pipe’ and ‘FLIP!’ to the besties’ off screen lives and relied too heavily on lighting states to communicate that. The piece could have afforded more stage-time to their backstories, as that would have really grounded the relationship between the two and ultimately what social media got between. An off-handed mention of being ‘broke’ by Carleen or Crystal’s unjustified obsessive desire for fame, simply wasn’t enough to make me root for either character. My favourite moments were in Ofori’s writing paired with KJ’s lighting design. The writing in this play perfects shady humour, with witty allusions to contemporary apps like ‘Mango Music’ instead of ‘Apple Music’ - Simple really, but it made me chuckle.
A beautiful visual moment was in the playfulness of the ‘Ring Light Scene’ used to exaggerate an annoying droning influencer, where the ring-light was used as a halo. Ultimately, the piece probes questions about the increasing threat of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, ChatGpt and rising AI based software that mines our virtual identity and comes between our humanity.
It becomes clear that FLIP! really embodies the worst and the best of these platforms which displays what Ofori calls “Internet Theatre.” The piece climaxes as a ‘WAP’ parody dance-trend leads to the death of a young woman, who is ‘stupid’ for ‘doing the dance in the shower’ - Hey, Crystal’s words not mine. It asks us to what lengths will influencers and internet celebrities go, when one turns to quick money because “Working hard doesn’t work.”
Crystal’s final question of the play asking “But am I gonna stop though?” suggests never - giving us a bleak view of a relentless, continually climaxing social media landscape. - oof.
3.5 Moons Out Of 5 🌕🌕🌕🌗
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