EFR - Reviews of Loose Soul

Loose Soul

Thu 31st July – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Bridey Addison-Child

at 03:19 on 8th Aug 2014

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‘Pinky’ (played by Melody Parker) is a lost soul who creates a flawless cyberspace personality, ‘Penelope’ (played by Natalie Robbie). In this way, ‘Loose Soul’ is an intelligent study of how the technology we rely on shapes our identity and the presentation of that identity, often allowing us to gloss over the imperfections that make us human, and to remain connected despite our loneliness.

The production was striking from the off, instantly plunging the audience into stunning visuals projected across the backdrop of the stage. The graphics were futuristic in style and gave an impressively cinematic feel at times, really opening the small space of the stage up and stylistically adding to the piece. Similarly the music (an almost Thomas-Newman-style soundtrack) furthered the filmic atmosphere, and integrated the audience into a full sensory experience. This was clearly an intentional (and clever) directorial decision, giving a nod towards the technology-focused subject matter.

As the production progressed, the line between Pinky and Penelope became more blurred, with both characters narrating the events unfolding in Pinky’s life. The dialogue’s charming lyrical couplets were juxtaposed with the essentially dominant and malicious nature of Penelope, while Pinky struggled for control. This allusion to technology’s ability to control our lives, and even challenge our notion of identity, was a clever move on Parker’s part, who penned the piece.

This seemed especially apt when the world’s focus on technology seemed to dampen Pinky’s passion for reading and philosophy – perhaps suggesting that technology has the ability to dampen our creativity and natural human inquisitiveness. Credit is also due to Natalie Robbie for her lighthearted and often humorous portrayal of an array of characters – particularly her uncannily accurate representation of her avatar in a video game.

A slight downfall of the production was that it felt a little disjointed structurally and, at times, I struggled to follow the plot. However, the overall impact of the piece, stemming from the multimedia experience, just about made up for this and, since the production was not exactly naturalistic in style, the slightly haphazard nature of the narrative was forgivable. Overall then, a strong thematic purpose, an original and inventive script, and solid acting make this a show well worth your time.

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Patrick Galbraith

at 09:26 on 8th Aug 2014

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Pinky, a lost soul, played by Melody Parker, seeks solace in cyber-space. She has done something ‘incredible’; like some sort of Dr Frankenstein, she has created life. She has created “Penelope” (Natalie Robbie). Penelope is a seemingly perfect self, the girl that Pinky has always wanted to be: always thin, always with perfect skin and always with a ‘hairless vagina’. The only limitation is that she only exists in the confines of the internet.

The atmosphere created through the intensity of audio-visuals is excellent and adds to the difficulty of determining whether Pinky is in cyber-space or whether she’s in reality – can we really distinguish between the two anymore? She certainly can’t. This uncertainty is furthered by her psychotic delusions – she has been visited from the future and has been tasked with saving the world, difficult for a girl who wets herself at the Mcdonald’s checkouts and struggles to get up in the morning.

Loose Soul is strikingly aesthetic. The choreography is good and the acting is better. Robbie is particularly impressive as Pinky’s music teacher, forcing her to a sing a manic song about her life which consists of ‘going online’, punctuated with eating and sleeping. It doesn’t really sound like it should work but it does.

With the stage flashing phosphorescently and computerised voice overs, Loose Soul feels like a dystopia at times - a future where people will live on-line, in a time when people will never be alone, but instead will always be ‘alone together’ in cyber-space. Yet aren’t we almost living in that time now? The voice-over returns at the end of the play asking us to ‘pay attention to what it feels like to not exist, for it’s happening’.

Loose Soul leads us to consider that maybe it really is happening. Are we turning into "Penelopes", existing more and more in cyberspace, a world where you can shop, meet new friends and fall in love? Penelope may be a computer game presence but parallels can very easily be drawn with the creation of our “real” social media selves, selves that we create and regulate, but ultimately, selves that often have very little resemblance to reality.

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