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Social media inspires tangled Web


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A notable cast and captivating premise are wasted in theatre production The Web, which offers a haphazard critique of social media.

The Bakehouse Theatre Company uses an ambitious mix of styles, which unfortunately collapses into a disjointed and inarticulate hotchpotch. On the whole, it’s too ambitious as an art play, it’s too obvious to be a satire, and as a drama it merely establishes some mild tension but never generates any meaningful insight into isolation, friendship or cyber-space. It tries hard, but alas it feels hollow.

The play begins when Fred (Michael Lemmer) stabs his best friend, Travis (Andrew Thomas).  Seriously wounded, Travis is taken to hospital and Fred is arrested by sympathetic family friend Sergeant Tukovsky (Nathan Porteus).  The plot is delivered in the first minutes, so this isn’t a whodunit but more of a why-he-dun-it.

In flashbacks, the story unfolds. Fred is a 15-year-old loner who lives on a run-down farm and attends St Isidore’s Agricultural College. To his surprise, he’s befriended by Travis, the school’s prefect and seemingly most popular and successful student. With little effort, Fred is lured into the world of The Web, where all is not what it seems.

To help Fred pass his social studies class, Travis suggests a social experiment about rural isolation and social alienation with Fred as the guinea pig. Fred isn’t convinced until he is contacted by the lovely Susan (Delia Taylor) via email and then encouraged by his mother Ivy (Amy Victoria Brooks) to reply. That’s when the heartaches begin.

Yasmin Gurreeboo’s direction is controlled, Manda Webber’s set is homespun, simple and rustic, and the players’ performances all have depth.  Yet despite the positives, including a decent soundtrack and nice lighting, the play doesn’t quite work.

There are some impressive scenes, but insufficient flashes of inspiration to merit a recommendation.

The Web is showing at Bakehouse Theatre until November 2.

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