Work_from_Home at New Diorama Theatre online
The New Diorama Theatre’s online theatrical experience Work_From_Home is the digital adaptation of Nathan Ellis’ script work.txt. Despite showing a promising concept and technological innovations, it fails to present anything beyond a flat portrayal of lockdown. The Zoom meeting audience participation experiment, while charming at first, soon derails, the excitement of the new medium losing its novelty as pacing issues and unengaging script passages become the production’s main focal point.
Work_From_Home is a stylistic depiction of lockdown reality and human connections through digital interaction. The audience is sent private messages detailing script passages to read out and scenes to participate in. Together we make a character, someone whose Zoom meeting froze, who hasn’t done any work or responded to friends or colleagues, someone who is stuck in time. The production shows an associate for a theatre and an usher discussing a project, a couple detailing the outside sky to one another and two work friends discussing the frozen Zoom meeting that has now gone viral. Although well structured with clear dramaturgical direction, these scenes in Work_From_Home feel repetitive, and no true exploration into differing perceptions of lockdown is offered.
The monotonous and dialogue is further exacerbated by the often long moments of silence as audience members receive their lines and prepare to read them out. The long pauses are common and make the script lose its impact as opposed to offering an interesting layer to the performance about the consequences of technological delays in online interaction. However, the decision to pack in lots of audience interaction proves a fun experience, despite its dampening the flow of the production. Work_From_Home made sure to keep the audience on their toes, making them smile and feel appreciated in their participation.
Work_From_Home puts the audience experience first, offering fun audience interaction. The production is novel and feels full of potential; however, it unfortunately fails to go beyond the cynical view and stereotypical depiction of lockdown and online interaction.
Image: Guy Sanders
Work_from_Home is available to view as a ticketed live Zoom performance from 22nd June until 3rd July 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.