Reviewed by Caitlin Fahey
Have you heard of LonelyGirl15? Have you seen Law and Order SVU or Fear.com? If so, The Footage won’t be particularly eye-opening. For all the impressively quick-witted dialogue, the play seems all too familiar, and we already know from reality TV that America has become a nation of voyeurs who don’t need talent to make it big as a celebrity.
The Footage’s dialogue is natural, provocative, and contemporary, which should appeal to today’s generation of YouTube-watching, virtual-reality-loving gamers. The cast does well to draw the audience into a world that may or may not be real. The only problem is that, in today’s oversaturated world, the plot may be played out.
The Footage chronicles the lifestyles of two groups of twenty-somethings. Roommates Lauren, Alexa, and Delilah shelter bootcamp-runaway JC and upload viral videos to the web every night to chronicle the kidnapping and torture of Delilah. Alexa studies literature and flirts with JC while Delilah performs self-mutilation with paper-clips and wracks her brain for new gimmicks to bring more hits to her posts. Lauren is perhaps the most distraught over Delilah’s behavior, and seeks solace in the virtual world of MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).
Across the country, buddies Dodge, Ethan, and Chance, along with Chance’s girlfriend Maya, are drawn into the world of “Lilah1617.” Chance and Ethan quickly become obsessed with the posts and scour the videos for hours, looking for a clue that will deem Lilah’s encounters either real or fake. Disgusted by their behavior, Maya finds her inspiration to write again after a lengthy bout of writer’s block, and begins a blog. Ironically, Maya’s blogging ultimately makes her just as much an addict as Ethan and Chance. Dodge remains the least affected by Delilah’s postings which allows him to get to closer to Maya as Chance drifts deeper into a virtual world comprised of mysterious footage.
Erin Elizabeth Murphy’s costumes are wholly believable, right down to the ironic stoner T-shirts, and Adrian W. Jones has designed an intimate space that fits the themes of the show. As the characters watch the footage, the audience closely observes the characters, which raises the question: when do we move from voyeurs to prisoners? Is it worse to watch, or to watch those who are watching? If U.S. citizens will watch terrorist beheadings for fun, at what point does live murder become unacceptable?
THE FOOTAGE (90 minutes, no intermission)
FLEA THEATER (41 White Street)
Performances (through 11/30): Friday and Saturday 7:00; Sunday 3:00