A Sussex Playwrights first – we review John Knowles’ new online play created entirely in lockdown
Sussex Playwrights Reviews:
The Ghost In The Machine (The Seance)
A Zoom play by John Knowles
Amelia – Emily Carding (editor)
Alice – Sabina Arthur
Frank Sidney Kean
Pete – Patrick Kealey
Gary – John Knowles
The Ghost – Dominique Gerrard (director)
Gary’s Wife Susan Elliott
May’s an amazing time for creativity, here in Brighton and Sussex.
At the time of writing, Brighton Festival, Fringe and Artists’ Open Houses should be happening all over the city.
But as we all know, it’s all off for now.
Instead, an extraordinary flowering of creativity is happening online. Artists are creating new audio, TV, film, music and different ways of communicating all using the internet. We’re seeing ambitious live Shakespeare performances in isolation, new audio dramas and commercials all filmed in the actors’ own homes.
And here’s a first for Sussex Playwrights Reviews – a brand new play by John Knowles, filmed and delivered entirely online, a collage of actors’ faces and backgrounds all recording into their own devices in isolation.
An online seance is about to begin. The familiar group is gathering together in isolation for the first time, led by medium Amelia (Emily Carding), all smoky eyed and ethereal in the Northern lights – until of course it all begins to go wrong. She’s dragged out of her carefully cultivated persona, as slightly pissed Gary (author John Knowles) crashes into the meeting.
The play has great fun with the social and technological awkwardness we all share in the New Normal; as you can’t hold hands, just how do you cope with that online? Those interruptions from family, arguments and unfortunate revelations when mute hasn’t worked – they’re all so now.
Amelia’s valiantly holding together the wafty ‘is there anybody there’ schtick, but finally losing it in the face of intransigent irritating people is very funny.
But the note turns dark when another participant logs in and gains control of the meeting.
Knowles’ writing ranges from amusing parody, closely observed online chat and exasperated rows, to the final editorial tone of the play’s real message.
The fun, relatable premise leads us into explorations of online spying, Zoom bombing, and just how much information, personal details and secrets about ourselves do our computers contain – and who has access to it?
It’s real lockdown theatre for now.