Teh Internet is Serious Business at the Royal Court
Slotted into the pandemonium of Teh Internet Is Serious Business are the rules of the Internet, little nuggets of wisdom like “Everything that can be labelled can be hated”, “Nothing is sacred” and “Everything is funny”. Armed with these truths, you might just stay sane while negotiating cyber space.
Relaying the story of the hacktivist group Anonymous and offshoot Lulzsec, the play is a clash of noise, colour and confusion, which aptly depicts that gaudy playground: the Internet. Well-known memes are embodied by costumed actors – you might recognise Grumpy Cat, Socially Awkward Penguin and Sarcastic Willy Wonka. Now and again we’re Rick Roll’d while expecting to see something else. We meet 15-year-old hacker T-Flow and a ragtag bunch of others who make up Lulzsec, the tight-knit cyber family in which nobody knows anybody’s real name. Together they take on the giants of the Internet: the Church of Scientology, the Tunisian government and the CIA. Suddenly they’re no longer just “getting their lulz” online; they are stirring up global activism in their assault on censorship.
Fittingly riotous, the stage sports square, grey panels like giant pixels through which the characters tumble, a colourful ball pool in which characters either revel or drown, blinding multi-coloured disco lighting and inflatable penises that litter the space along with confetti.
At times the play is in danger of letting style detract from real substance. There’s a distance and lack of warmth that accurately portrays Internet relationships but prohibits the audience from being truly pulled in. Starting off flatly like a school play, it thankfully changes pace in the second half with the show’s only song (about the importance of changing one’s password) and the ever-nearing footsteps of the FBI.
The two-and-a-half-hour running time (including interval) may prove bum-numbing for some. Still, with a sensory overload from the set as well as a heap of ultra-up-to-date web references to catch, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. If you want to brush up on your memes before attending, you can with this glossary on the Royal Court’s website.
Audiences will come away with an idea of the sheer power that elite hackers hold over our web reliant society. As Lulzsec member Topiary soliloquises, “The Internet belongs to the trolls and the hackers, the enthusiasts and the extremists; it will never cease to be this way.”
To add further intrigue, the whole thing is based on a true story.
Teh Internet Is Serious Business is on at the Royal Court Theatre from 18th September until 25th October 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Teh Internet Is Serious Business here: