Flip! at Soho Theatre
Close to the start of Flip!, the characters question one another: would you rather be well-known and poor or unknown and wealthy? While one craves fame, the other claims to prefer financial stability to a large following. Yet, the events that transpire over the 70 minutes of Flip! demonstrate that in today’s social media and image-obsessed world, attention itself is becoming the most valuable capital a person can have.
Flip! centres around Crystal and Carleen – two friends and influencer hopefuls – and their efforts to grow their online profiles. At the start, the pair host a show in which they talk about “whatever they want” on a platform similar to YouTube. Yet, after they are “cancelled” by the public following comments made about another influencer, Crystal and Carleen decide to rebrand on the newest and most popular social media app: Flip!
Flip! is a clear stand-in for TikTok, as the characters recreate the short-form content popular on the app, such as five-second long dances and formulaic skits consisting of a few sentences at most. The curated performances for their online audiences are juxtaposed with their real lives, in which they express concern for how they will be perceived on the app.
Leah St Luce, who plays Carleen, and Jadesola Odunjo, who plays Crystal, swap in and out of roles flawlessly as they also adopt the voices of Carleen and Crystal’s online audiences. Voicing ever-conflicting opinions of critics and fans alike, their performances as the Greek-chorus-like audience are clever and sharp. The intentionally ridiculous praise and criticism they heap upon the influencers is highly amusing, yet also serves as a critique of cancel culture’s base in the idea that followers have any true knowledge of/intimacy with the people they watch online.
By highlighting how Crystal and Carleen consistently edit and censor themselves to try to appeal to all audiences, the play speaks to how the social media industry transforms humans into brands, making people commodities in their own right. As one-half of the duo rises to social media stardom, she is made into a product to be sold, as the value of her image only increases with the number of eyes on it.
With witty dialogue, a compelling plot and lively performances from St Luce and Odunjo, Flip! is a very easy watch. Yet within this highly enjoyable play is a clearly critical commentary on the perils of influencer culture, technology as it relates to privacy and social media’s upholding of a potentially harmful economy of attention. With Flip!, writer Racheal Ofori presents a fresh take on a hot topic, prompting both laughter and reflection.
Images: Tristram Kenton
Flip! is at Soho Theatre from 7th until 25th November 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.