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Theatre Review: Instinct at Television Workshop

21 March 18 words: Jared Wilson

The third installment in Television Workshop's annual season is a well thought out critique of social media addiction...

Instinct at Television Workshop - Photo by Jared Wilson

Instinct is a new original play from the Television Workshop. It tells the story of a social networking app, Instinct, that uses facial recognition software and encourages users to film videos reacting to people and things. It also tells the story of the lives of people who are caught up in this app.

Tash (Justine Moore) and Toni (Maddie Hutchinson) used to be best friends. But they’ve had a fall-out, which is something to do with the app. Toni has left it behind for good, but Tash is still on it and getting increasingly caught up. Her dad Gary (Tobias Burton-Rudge) wants to see her playing outside, but he’ll settle for seeing her interact with other teenagers; including her new computer programmer friend Sean (Harvey Scrimshaw).

Meanwhile Frances (Mirela Novakovic) and Clare (Joelle Bromidge) have retreated to a treehouse where they and their daughter, the aforementioned Toni, are trying to live a simple life away. However, they are about to get invaded by a raft of guests such as Jamie (Fred Wardale), Jess (Lizzie Wood) and the hilariously silly Tree (Benedict Moore), Lo (Terry Haywood) and Gee (Emily Raynor).

Instinct at Television Workshop - Photo by Jared Wilson

Down the line these plotlines will combine, especially when it becomes known that a way to hack the app is to wear an ‘anonymous’-style mask while using it. This rebellion is fostered by the camp Maskmaker (Cameron Foster) and eventually the app creators Rachel (Elissa Reynolds) and Simon (Joe Greenwood) have to take notice.

The play was directed by Television Workshop head Nic Harvey, but it’s clear that the writing is a group effort involving the team behind the scenes and the actors themselves. It explores themes of social media addiction in a mature way and of the current TV Workshop season it’s probably the most suitable play for younger audiences to watch.

I went to see it on opening night and there were a few minor technical hitches, but when you’re regularly serving up champagne on lemonade money, this stuff happens. This is the workshop that has produced Samantha MortonVicky McClureJoe Dempsie, Jack O’Connell, Aisling LoftusToby KebbellBella RamsayMista Jam and many more. If you’d like to see some of the next generation of acting talent after those then you have about a week and a half left of their annual season left.

Instinct is running from Tuesday 21 - Saturday 24 March at The Television Workshop.

Television Workshop website

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