REVIEW – Compelling exploration of revenge porn and shame in the social media age

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Deadline News reviews and reports from Edinburgh Festival Fringe

SHOW TITLE: Shame

VENUE: Assembly George Square Studios, until August 28

By CAT TIMONEY

Performance of Shame by Tidy Carnage at Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Picture contributed

 

Brought to the festival by Glasgow-based and avowed feminist company, Tidy Carnage, Shame fuses more traditional theatre with video to effectively explore a highly relevant issue, skilfully challenging the concept of shame in an increasingly digital world.

Written and performed by Belle Jones, the performance takes on the ever relevant topic of revenge-porn, effectively engaging with key issues such as the effect of social media on our lives and relationships, gender relations to shame, as well as consent.

Belle Jones plays our protagonist Vicky, a distressed mother whose daughter Keira has gone missing after an intimate video involving sexual acts is shared online among her school peers. Communicated through Vicky’s dialogue, a series of ‘vlogs’ by Keira and on-screen projections of social media engagements with the leaked video, we see how quickly the internet escalates this situation into an intricate web of bullying and hate.

Sarah Miele, playing Keira, gives a genuine performance, accurately portraying life as a 15-year-old girl. We watch her character develop through each online video and as she becomes more comfortable in front of the camera, we get a greater grasp of her personality. The ‘vlogs’ not only illustrate the character relations as we watch Keira interact with her Mum and Grandma, but also explore how different age groups engage with social media.

Performance of Shame by Tidy Carnage at Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Picture contributed

A scant use of props gives the production a minimalist feel while the heartfelt portrayal of Vicky’s performance narrates and reacts to each social media segment, exploring all the possible thoughts and emotions of a woman in her situation. On stage costume changes help convey time and place while projection at the rear of the stage, surrounded by blue lit string, invokes a spider’s web.

The piece is well written in that it explores a sensitive and emotive topic but with wit and dry humour, making the audience laugh without taking away from the severity of the situation.

Part of Future Play, Tidy Carnage challenge the concept of Shame in the digital age suggesting we reclaim our own humiliations by posting them online first with the hashtag #Unshamed.

Performance of Shame by Tidy Carnage at Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Picture contributed

In this case, I do think that this solution may not have helped the situation as Keira’s family members each share their own shame in the hopes of bringing her home. The intentions behind this solution seem positive, the videos posted by her Mum and Grandma divulging their own personal shame, though interestingly, this might perhaps provide ammo to Keira’s taunters, making the situation worse.

Despite personal reservations, the #Unshamed videos represent the idea that the internet can be a force for good and opens up an interesting dialogue regarding gender relations to shame. The majority of those engaged with #Unshamed are female which raises the provocative question – do women feel shame more than men and why?

Shame proved an enticing piece of theatre with the cast providing believable performances both on stage and on screen. Engaging with hot button issues in gender, consent and shame itself, the play was well produced, perfectly juxtaposing strong monologues with interesting video content.

For Fringe goers seeking a show with a lot of depth, Shame provides the perfect blend of thought provoking dialogue, interesting themes and tasteful, well timed comedic moments.

****

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