Through the Looking Screen
A black tale of loneliness and log-ins
This article is from 2012.
The experience of turning The Office into an operatic extravaganza for Comic Relief in 2009 clearly gave Anne Chmelewsky a taste for the comedic possibilities of a musical form normally associated with grim tragedy. But the ‘high heels and high Cs’ story of a fictionalised internet stalker Annabel Clark, certainly lends itself to black humour.
Having had little luck in the relationship stakes, Annabel becomes slowly obsessed with a work colleague, Sebastian Smith, but finds it impossible to take any steps to realise her intentions face-to-face, preferring to open a bottle of white wine and log-in to follow, update, tag, untag and tweet her way to happiness. But what if the object of her desire isn’t who she imagines him to be?
Through the Looking Screen can be read as not just being an exploration of how we find love in a modern techno-driven, but how an over-reliance on social media networks is helping to cultivate a generation of lost souls who hide behind Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Are these impersonal tools the only means by which we can achieve some sense of worth now? At one point, Annabel interrogates our live pianist (the half-French, half-Scottish Elizabeth Challenger) on how she met her husband and is knocked sideways with the revelation that you can actually encounter someone for the first time in a public place.
On this review date, the part of Annabel was taken by Amy J Payne (a founding member of The Bombshellettes, the UK’s only 15-piece all-female swing orchestra) and she gives it plenty as the tale of creeping neurosis and lonely obsession intensifies. A one-woman operetta about internet stalking is certainly a novelty in the comedy section of the Fringe programme and while there’s no doubting the skill of all involved, the laughs don’t exactly come thick and fast.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 26 Aug (not 22), 3.35pm, £10--£11 (£8.50--£9.50).