Fringe 2016: Override

Before Override even starts, the audience see adverts and reports on technology’s influence on human life in the near future. Some of the clips used are in fact real, but displayed alongside the fictional videos, it becomes difficult to distinguish, showing how close we are to what were once fantastical technological advancements. And so we slide comfortably into the world of Mark and Violet. The couple have run away from a technology obsessed world to raise their child closer to nature.

Visually, this is a very well designed show. The set is ‘rustic chic’, as Violet describes it – but with a window acting like a screen (Killian Waters). Although the characters have mostly basic technology in their home, they still live with voice activation systems and the ability to control music with a hand gesture. The set, lighting (Sarah Jane Shiels) and sound design (Peter Power) help us experience living in what almost felt like a giant computer. The costumes (Violet’s in particular) also brought us into the future with small but significant changes to simple clothing. Sophie Motley’s direction, while generally commendable, had Mark making and unmaking the bed a needless number of times.

Technology becoming more part of our bodies is an important and real issue, but this theme wasn’t tackled as well as it could have been, and became messy with other themes thrown in without proper development. Stigma of people who have augmented themselves  feels like a new form of discrimination. Stemming from that, the play works in issues such as domestic abuse and controlling what people (women) do with their body. There was a lack of clarity given for the stigma expressed by Mark, and the issue of robot/human relations were reminiscent of Clare O’Reilly’s Love+, unfortunately falling short. References to sci-fi (‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’) felt tokenised and didn’t always fit the scene. The fact that there were so many good ideas in this show is the very reason it failed to be as poignant as it could have been. With more development and editing, Override has a lot of potential.

Síofra Nic Liam

Override 9-17 Sep Project Arts Centre part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe.

 

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