Personal surveillance is one of the most pressing issues needing greater attention from modern society. Who decides who is placed under surveillance? What right do we, as individuals, have to know who is watching us and for what reason? Do they need a reason? Who are they anyway?
Local theatre company five.point.one tackles this complex issue head-on, with an edgy, fast-paced production that effectively creates the stifling atmosphere which must come with being a victim of state or other surveillance.
The central character, “Her”, is placed under surveillance simply because her father was a European war criminal. “They”, whoever they are, know everything about Her, including intimate details of her sexual activities with partners found on dating sites. They are plotting to force Her into service in one of their operations.
We never find out who They are, because it doesn’t matter. They just represent generic spooks on a surveillance operation, with their own agenda and no thought for the victim they are attempting to force into service.
Set on a very basic stage, the main action is cleverly supported by black and white video back projection onto a large screen. This works fantastically well with pre-recorded images and even better with pictures from phone cameras being used live on stage by the spooks to monitor the actors. It helps convey the claustrophobic horror of being a victim of this surveillance age, with seemingly no rights or way out from under the oppressive abuse of power.
Is any of this surveillance needed or necessary? We are given the impression it is largely carried out just because it can be. “Nothing inspires the need to listen in, like silence.”
A complicated classic spy movie plot is the outcome of all this manipulation, presented with short, sharp serves of dialogue and rapid-fire scene changes supported by on-screen identification of the location changes.
Claire Glenn leads the way effectively as Her, ably supported by the male ensemble cast playing multiple parts, all under the pacy direction of writer Van Badham.
The very last on-screen visual image leaves you with plenty to think about as you leave the old Channel 9 Studio. Well worth a look if you are troubled by such matters.
Five.point.one is presenting Notoriously Yours at the Channel 9 Kevin Crease Studios until March 12.
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