Infinite Joy at the Southwark Playhouse
Musical comedy Infinite Joy, developed in collaboration with The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Bridge Company, presents recent Brit School graduates in a play combining original writing with topical issues.
Revolving around a group of 11 teenagers raised by a matriarchal figure, “Mother” (Charlotte Bailey), the drama disrupts the harmony of their strange utopic world with the introduction of a smartphone that washes ashore. The “infinite joy” they soon discover is more complicated than first realised; as a personified Siri (Roseanna Musgrove) introduces them to endless social media platforms, the gang become intensely preoccupied in keeping up with their likes and friend requests.
The simple set and lighting design by Ryan Dawson Laight and Zoe Spurr respectively capture the rather stark island “off the coast of Scotland” where the teens are stranded. Their costumes are an imaginative blend of faded fabrics, with curiously stylish jackets made from plastic laundry bags. The stage is too large for the small space of Southwark Playhouse, meaning the audience seats are unbearably close, Simon Kane’s direction feeling claustrophobic and cramped. Despite this, the students shine, particularly Musgrove’s Siri, with her precise West Coast American accent and mannerisms. As one member of the audience is overheard saying, the actress has “so much presence”.
Real-life social media platforms are changed: Facebook becomes Faceroom, Instagram Instaglamour and Google Oogle, imparting relevance on the production and drawing comparisons to reality which the audience laugh in agreement with. Hilarious and creative pop-ups, tempting entertainment memberships and ads are all humanised by the actors.
Composer Robert Scott and lyricist Brendan Cull’s songs make this commentary on online behaviour amusing, without being too moralistic. Admittedly, there are innumerable songs in this piece, without much focus on the drama or history behind the teenagers’ lives, giving the impression that the musical is aiming to rouse viewers to reflect on their social media behaviour, above anything else.
The cast members dazzle in their roles as a group of Generation Y adolescents, with outstanding vocals and acting of a high standard. In a time when an increasing amount of people – particularly young individuals – are dependent on their devices, the piece provides a comical insight into the social media world we know so well, and questions, “if we can get everything right away, doesn’t it lose its value?”
Photo: Helen Murray
Infinite Joy is at the Southwark Playhouse from 23rd June until 14th July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.