Friday, 14 April 2017

A Machine They're Secretly Building

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

For anyone reading this, chances are all information, data or opinion that follows will already have been documented and archived somewhere we may not know about. Likewise for the show itself, an hour-long dramatic dissection of surveillance culture past, present and future, presented here by Proto-type Theatre with input from several producing partners, including Tramway, Glasgow. Maybe that's why the two young women who greet the audience in the Tron's bunker-like Changing House space are wearing pink, Pussy Riot style balaclavas. As they peer out from behind a desk loaded with notes, their hidden faces are enlarged on the screen next to them by way of a live video feed.

As with the overload of information that follows, once the masks are off, identities are revealed alongside a life-hack's worth of leaks. The show's devisers and performers Rachel Baynton and Gillian Lees move from the Cold War to 9/11 and beyond without ever quite giving the game away. With a title drawn from Edward Snowdon and a script pulled together by Andrew Westerside and the company, the pair nevertheless still manage to unveil a very secret history. In collusion with Adam York Gregory's text-heavy video projections and an electronic underscore by Paul J Rogers, this reveals a digital age where every click, text and email is recorded, saved and stored.

In what at times resembles a dramatised TED talk, this barrage of facts and figures might well be dismissed as the stuff of paranoid science-fiction conspiracy theories. As the evidence stacks up, however, the truth of Baynton and Lee's high-tech show-and-tell is very clearly out there.

The Herald, April 17th 2017

ends



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