We must expect tribalism to reinvent itself with each generation. The 21st Century’s version? The internet. The tribes that surf the net have no defining look: they have no average age, background or religion. They’re just tech-savvy. That’s it. But it brings them myriad online opportunities.
In Tim Price’s partially made-up account of the cases of LulzSec and Anonymous (two large-scale hacking units), two teenage Brits discover that a kind of empirical truth and eternal freedom exists only on the internet; and in that, that the internet really is serious business. They’re soon disengaged with the way of things IRL – that’s net speak for in real life.
So, information and – importantly – the ability to better oneself is free online, if you know how, and our central protagonists refuse the British schooling system that honours students only by their age – in fact, they take issue with the widely-censored offline world, and quickly our online gangs – represented on stage in dazzling arrays of creativity – target the FBI to begin righting the wrongs of an age lacking the miracles of tech.
What follows, initiates and narrates these freedom fighters’ battle toward online freedom offline isn’t the striving force of Price’s play. “The internet” has been staged for years – instead it is Hamish Pirie’s thoughtful direction that welcomes the online off with arresting visual displays that last the play long. The interactive box-like and computer-like set is as much of a mover and shaker in the play as these kids and their hacks. Actors freely jump into a ball pit at the front of the stage that stands for both online obsession and consumption; and perhaps the sinking feeling synonymous with regulation and enforcement. Everything on stage is accessible and digestible – and lacking of rules and regs.
As the hackers drop in and out of imagined or physical situations, at school or in cyber space, recognisable faces from internet’s past jet in and join in the fun. The Condescending Wonka, The Sad Storm Trooper and Rik Astley himself make appearances. The constant web references may beset a few Royal Court seasonnaires, but mostly, this is a wonderful peering into the internet’s frail take on the outside world, and the outside world’s deathly-shallow grasp of the www: an exposed world of eccentricity, and censorship’s new authentic outlaw.
The Royal Court's Teh Internet is Serious Business plays until October 25th 2014.
Check out the play's official trailer below: