And Now: The World! at the Hackney Showroom Theatre
The rise of consumerism and technology has not only changed people’s behaviour, but it is redefining the way younger generations shape and express their identity. The one-woman show And Now: The World! by Sibylle Berg handles some of the most controversial topics affecting today’s society, with a dark humour that makes the modern world seem deeply tragicomical. The play does not attempt to give answers, it simply presents all the elements that are part of a young person’s daily life, compresses them into a set of monologues and leaves the audience to ponder the facts, the causes and the possible solutions.
Actress Jennifer Jackson’s rendition of how the average teenager sounds is sobering on many levels. The similarities in tastes among young people give the impression of a fabricated persona projected onto millions. The average youngster is full of insecurities, bombarded by distractions, and lacking a “life plan”. The protagonist feels that she can’t beat the system and is weary of the ready-made coping mechanisms that society forces on her: an obsession with shoes, anti-ageing products, or studying a “safe” subject like business or law. While she wishes she could start a revolution and liberate the world from mediocrity, she realises that her power is reduced to “blogging and making responsible consumer choices”.
One of the play’s major themes is technology. Without leaving her room, the protagonist experiences a turmoil of emotions as her relationships develop, crash and burn through Facebook and Skype. When no one talks to her, she feels that her life gets “blurry”. Her constant connection with a virtual network of people means that she has not fully developed a sense of self because of the illusion that she is constantly accompanied, somehow seen and supported at all times. Jackson warns against this false sense of security, stating in TED-talk style: “if we don’t teach our children how to be alone, they will only learn to be lonely”.
In just over an hour, she introduces so many themes worthy of reflection that it is natural to leave the studio wishing to dig deeper into the notions brought forth. This reaction to the play was clearly predicted, hence the educational programme of workshops and discussions organised around the production. The Hackney Showroom’s spacious white studio is the perfect setting for portraying isolation and alienation. Jackson moves with impressive agility and has an enormous whiteboard at her disposal for emphasising concepts by drawing and writing. Intense and inspiring, And Now: The World! may not change the world, but it encourages a way of thinking that, if adopted collectively, could just be the beginning of a revolution.
And Now: The World! is on at the Hackney Showroom Theatre from 27th October until 31st October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.