JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT
BY ALEXANDER DEFERT
THE CLEVEREST CONCEPT FOR A ONE WOMAN SHOW I'VE SEEN
Wait! Before you read this, I want you to ignore the stars. Yes, that’s right, I said ignore them. Whilst a useful tool in the reviewer’s arsenal, I’ve always found them to be grossly over simplistic; never capturing the nuanced details of a show which may, ultimately, be the most important consideration when evaluating it. As a show in progress, rather than the finished article, it would have felt egregious to give it more and, yet, at the same time, I feel that this show will almost certainly grow into a five star production.
‘Google Me’ may be the cleverest concept for a one woman show that I’ve had the privilege to see in a very long time. It is smart, funny, self-deprecating, utterly relatable and just the right amount of shocking. A perfect blend of comedic wit and intensely self-conscious discussion. If Fleabag did computing, this is what it would look like.
Written and performed by the extraordinarily talented Eleanor Colville, ‘Google Me’ is a riotous one hour dive into the murky world of online algorithms; exploring their impact on our mental health, political views, interpersonal relationships and the frightening amount of power that we willingly give over to strangers. The characters and dialogue, as well as the expertly broken fourth wall, all contributed to an intensely enjoyable and engaging piece of theatre, one whose subject matter intelligently dissects and explains a topic currently enjoying greater public awareness than ever before. In the wake of scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, ‘Google Me’ is perfectly timed to fill a much needed hole in contemporary satire. As such, it is a performance I strongly encourage you to make time to see. I promise you will not regret it.
Of particular note are the two songs incorporated into the show, both of which I have found myself humming incessantly since I heard them. Indeed, I find myself spontaneously breaking into the odd chorus of the second song, “All of the Likes”, at regular intervals, frightening any stray cat or alarmed passerby unfortunate enough to be walking past me at the wrong moment.
‘Google Me’ is still a work in progress and, thus, still suffers from the growing pains all young shows go through (hilariously referred to within the show as ‘baby raptors’). As a tech geek I was a little sad that she didn’t explore the fertile ground of targeted ad algorithms and racist chat bots for more material, and there certainly wasn’t enough of the character of Sharon (and entirely too much of her husband Pat Riarchy, whose comedic value simply doesn’t stretch to justify the amount of stage time he was granted). Nor, sadly, did the show fully plumb the disturbing well of blackbox A.I’s, whose Deep Learning often forms the bedrock of the algorithmically defined online world, but these are entirely minor gripes.
Moreover I was thrilled that the show didn’t shy away from the culture of toxic masculinity that infects and pervades online forums such as 4chan and reddit (perhaps a future incarnation of the show might cover the even more vociferously despicable InCel culture that has sprung up in response to hard won ground gained by feminism worldwide, such as the #metoo movement), nor the virtue signalling behaviour resulting from online echo chambers and the extremist, uncompromising mentalities which they drive us unconsciously towards.
In short, “Google Me” is a wonderful and slightly bonkers menagerie of characters, colours, music and google searches and, in Eleanor Colville, it has the perfect maestro to oversee its inevitable transformation from potential filled baby raptor to truly exceptional theatre piece. I greatly look forward to seeing its future incarnations.