Caught in the Net

Tue 6th – Sat 10th August 2013


Costanza Bertoni

at 20:02 on 6th Aug 2013



The number of times that I have been warned and lectured on the dangers of cyberspace in school, was also the number of ways in which I dreaded the subject to be approached by YMTS (Youth Music Theatre of Scotland). Although I thought there were few ways to vary the message of the topic: to be mindful of strangers and treatment of others on the internet, YMTS attempted to approach the issues of cyberspace by weaving a wide net of perspectives.

Careful to swiftly turn my phone on silent before the show, I was caught in the act. Approached by the students as we filtered into the theatre they ‘liked’ items of clothing with post-it notes, asking us to ‘follow’ them, and nattered away in hashtags; I was impressed by the ease with which the students approached the members of the audience.

The visual presentation of the performance was really imaginative. They used a large screen at the back of the stage on which messages and pictures were used to enhance the action on stage, also conveying the imposing presence of the internet on our lives in a less literal manner. Props such as stools and paper airplanes were also used. A favourite scene was one in which a, slightly muddled but nevertheless effective, showering of paper airplanes was used to demonstrate the growing hysteria and obsession that the use of messaging was causing for individuals.

Cool and catchy; some of the language used in the production was extremely eye-grabbing; the opening scene performed entirely in rhyme for example, but also the recurring labelling of each sketch on the screen behind, such as ‘cyperchondria’ was an elegant touch that helped structure the performance.

Taking a school production up to the Fringe is always risky, particularly with a subject such as the perils of the internet, which tends to be categorised as a compulsory curriculum concept. Although I thought that it was handled well, the young age of the acting company meant that the standard of acting was appropriate for the age, but perhaps not for the Fringe. They performed confidently, but line stumbles meant that some extra rehearsal time could be spent improving the shuffling scene changes, speaking more loudly, and shaky line cues. Occasionally the scenarios also felt a little forced, such as the girl who had entered a cancer paranoia due to excessive googling, and the meme blunder by a boy at school who didn’t know that his friend’s sister had recently been hit by a car.

Would I click ‘like’ for this production? I’m not sure, but they did make me think about what would happen if I did.


Anjali Joseph

at 09:54 on 7th Aug 2013



The peppy cast of Youth Music Theatre Scotland’s ‘Caught in the Net’ welcomed us as we entered, chirping, “hashtag great to see you,” and putting post-it notes with a picture of the Facebook thumb on articles of our clothing that they “liked”. Not exactly cutting edge, but certainly well intentioned, the young ensemble tackled a range of cyber-issues such as bullying, identity theft and online grooming.

The interaction with the audience as they arrived was clearly scripted, and some cast members were thrown by conversation which went beyond the limits of their script. However, the initial nerves and some missed cues relaxed into a pleasingly paced show which covered important issues. The set design was striking and worked well, with the wooden stools used to create a variety of different spaces, and the piles of paper planes signifying an uncontrolled deluge of messages and social interactions. The young actors were evidently well-rehearsed and confident in their roles, with Sophie Paton’s performance standing out in particular. The scene with the cyber groomer was effectively staged, slick, well-timed, and demonstrated the ability of the cast to operate as an ensemble.

The play was created with the intention of teaching high school children about internet safety. However, it was perhaps this dual purpose of being both educational as well as entertaining which made the writing fall flat. The characters in Fraser Morrison and Rachel Vevers’ script were one-dimensional, clearly created as examples to be held up for dissection. Whilst I understand the difficulty that writing of this kind poses, by patronising the teenaged children that this is aimed at, its cautionary function became somewhat diluted by contrived scenarios and unrealistic characters. The hyper-cautionary script was unchecked by any sense of balance and moderation. Some of the issues were sensationalised, from the scene about ‘cyberchondia’, a melodramatic term for googling symptoms and jumping to conclusions, and the peppering of pseudo-medical descriptions of how getting a text automatically releases endorphins.

This was a promising cast hindered by #clumsyscripting which cheapened the production’s intended aims. The end result was not an accurate representation of the group’s potential, and marooned this performance at a level far below the cast's capabilities.


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