Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 1 November 2018
A portrait of digital disconnection and narcissistic technological practices, Here is the message you asked for… don’t tell anyone else 😉 lures the audience into an un-healthily obsessed society of which we might never return from.
In a shared dormitory, a group of millennial girls spend their days taking selfies, staring at screens and live streaming themselves to an audience they don’t know. With the girl’s making unintelligible sounds and speaking in Mandarin without subtitles, the only way to communicate with them is via the popular Chinese social network, WeChat. Amusingly, even though the audience is physically in front of the actors, the only method with which to connect has been reduced to that of the digital sphere through messages and live video calls.
By encouraging the show’s spectators to not settle for simply being voyeurs, but rather interact digitally with the actors via the social media platform, the performance’s message starts to become clear. Just like the technology-obsessed girls, the audience is drawn into this world as they stare at their phone screens as a means to communicate, rather than looking at the stage and the actors in their non-digital reality. It is obvious that this growing digital disconnection is something we should be aware of as cyber reality begins to take over from our physical reality, something Here is the message you asked for… don’t tell anyone else 😉 makes very clear.
The set is like nothing you’ve seen before on stage with its layered bunk beds filled with glowing fairy lights, flashing clouds and comfy linen, all surrounded by a sheer purple curtain creating a dream-like bubble in which the girls exist. Each bed becomes a cocoon of digital media surrounding the girl inside as projections of popular anime shows, girl groups parading around in short skirts, cooking shows and more flash up against their bunks. These young girls appear completely trapped within the all-consuming world of modern technology and even when they step outside of their bunks they’re phones remain firm extensions of their bodies.
Throughout the performance it is hard not to stare in wonder at the girl’s cutesy and outlandish costumes. Sailor Moon-esque outfits, knee-high socks, cartoon-covered kimonos and short school-girl skirts, as well as a range of wigs which include waist-long blonde extensions with soft toys attached, captivate the audience and embody the style of Kawaii (Japanese culture of cuteness).
Here is the message you asked for… don’t tell anyone else 😉 is an unusual piece of theatre that paints a disconcerting portrait of our society’s current state. As the audience is encouraged to step into the realm of digital communication, they join the media-obsessed bubble of these millennial girls, and who knows if we’ll all ever escape.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Venue: Space Theatre
Season: 1 – 3 November
Duration: 70 mins
Tickets: $30 – $45