Skip to main content

REVIEW: Disinhibition by Christopher Bryant

Quinten Henderson in Disinhibition at MUST
photo: Aleksandr Corke

Flick, known on Instagram as Flick.Eats, and George, known on Tumblr as Boyance, are social media influencers. Flick.Eats posts FODMAP recipes and Boyance is living his best gay life online, but both are lies – constructions of the kind of personalities that get likes and shares and re-blogs. When Microsoft releases a new artificial intelligence bot onto Twitter – Tay, whose followers are #TaysTeam – the world of fake online personas gets trickier to navigate.

Who are Flick and George, really? Do they even know anymore?

Disinhibition plunges the audience right into the internet, the opening scene a perfect recreation of a Twitter interaction: someone posts a photo of their cute dog, lots of other users retweet it and someone @s the original poster, telling them their dog is prettier than they are. All social niceties are gone; people will say anything to each other online.

Presented by Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) and directed with a sure hand and clear intent by Artistic Director Yvonne Virsik, Christopher Bryant’s latest play (1) is an incisive dissection of the world of social media and how it affects people’s lives and their views of themselves. Eleven young performers take on multiple roles, evoking everything from a Twitter storm, to awkward DMs, to hook-up culture, to the use and over-use of emojis to make themselves heard.

Georgia Kate Bell
Photo: Aleksandr Corke
Theatre and the internet are strange bedfellows; in some ways, live performance might be the only time people put their phones away – and critiquing online culture hasn’t easily translated to the stage. Disinhibition finds a way to create that multi-tabbed, chorus of voices and bombardment of news I get daily on my phone and laptop as I try to interact with the world.

The play also touches on the dichotomy of a place that both allows anonymity and encourages people to be themselves. A recent viral tweet asked “Are you the same person in real life as you are on Twitter?” And, of course, even if you’re on Twitter as yourself, you’re not always presenting every mood or every moment, high or low. Christopher Bryant’s work tackles this head-on, knowing that people aren’t even the same across different socials.

We’re different on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Tumbler and in real life. And yet, perhaps, this combination of different facets of ourselves might hint towards our real personality. Or maybe, with each reiteration, we get further and further from our true selves.

The ensemble of actors is young, and perfectly placed to embody a generation who doesn’t know the world without the internet. They are engaging and awkward and sincere and hilarious and powerful. For every rough moment, the audience is delivered a sublime interaction that struggles with the question “Is the internet good for us?”

Bryant doesn’t have an answer, of course. It’s fuck yes and hell no. And through slivers of conversation and difficult encounters with the internet famous, somehow there’s a comfort in knowing that we are all in the same boat – trying to be ourselves online, but never quite making it.

(1) While Disinhibition opened on 28th September, Bryant had another play open on 29th September at Theatre Works, titled The Other Place. I struggled with this one. The potentially interesting parallel stories of female theatre-makers from the 1970s felt too cerebral, not enough heart. The Other Place is on at Theatre Works until Sept 8th


Popular posts from this blog

My Favourite Theatre of 2018

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over everything I saw on stage and put together a list of my favourite shows. I saw over 100 shows this year, mostly in Melbourne and a small number on one visit to Sydney.

I will link to reviews if I wrote one.
TOP TEN (alphabetical order)
The Almighty Sometimes – Griffin Theatre, Sydney
Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary debut play is about Anna, dealing with mood disorders and medication and the complicated relationship she has with the treatments and her mother. Superb cast and beautifully directed by Lee Lewis
Blackie Blackie Brown – Malthouse Theatre
Nakkiah Lui’s work is always amazing but this production, directed by Declan Green, was another step up for her – the satire sharper and bleaker and more hilarious than ever before.
Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
Sarah Kane’s debut play from 1990s London is a tricky beast tackling difficult subjects but Anne-Louise Sarks nailed it with a superb production.
The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne

A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts: Avengers in the AGE OF ULTRON

The latest film in the Marvel Universe series feels like nothing so much as a season finale. And since Joss Whedon was once the master of creating season finales that were both emotionally satisfying and thematically resonant, it’s good to have him in charge for the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.
I’d like to compare it to the epic scope of Buffy’s “The Gift” but it feels more like Angel, if anything. Things change, the world moves on – and the best you can do is keep fighting. And embrace change.
Tony Stark has always been flawed, but by the third film in his own trilogy, he seemed to have found an emotional peace. But with that peace comes the idea that he can use his technology – his faith in machines being his tragic flaw – to create a replacement for the Avengers. He births an army of robots to calm the populace and fight alien foes.
Robert Downey Jnr’s Stark is such a towering figure in the Marvel Universe films – and to make him partly the villain of this new film is a s…

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C, wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better. Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…