FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Zoe McDonald

The Present Tense Ensemble

Underbelly @ Forth FM Radio Station

From 04 August 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by Liam Blain

A show that looks fantastic on paper doesn’t quite meet expectations in FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out.

Present Tense’s award-winning production places the audience inside the workings of Zoe McDonald’s talkback radio programme, where she endeavours to answer her listener’s personal problems. You are told that Zoe suffers from “the FOMO” (or the fear of missing out) and tonight, that’s going to be explored. Playing all twelve characters, McDonald begins to dissect her life, likes and dislikes through the medium of radio.

Set in a working studio at Forth One radio station, the location is ideal for this production and really sets the scene from the moment you walk through the door. However, on entering, you are also met by security guard Maureen (or, unbeknown to the audience, MacDonald in guise number one) dressed in a high-vis vest.

It is very evident that this is part of the production. However the conversation is more awkward than humorous, with Maureen forcing the audience to chat in the working reception of a busy radio station. Even the Forth One receptionist was cringing at the awkward small talk being generated right in front of her.

As the show gets into full swing, the comedy does improve and McDonald’s acting can certainly not be faulted. She moves flawlessly between the personas of Sergio (the Latin American Zumba instructor), Jill (the posh snoot) and many, many others.

It is evident that the acting is the heart and soul of this piece, but, because of this, the writing and direction have certainly been compromised. The performance begins as what feels like a humorous mockery of this genre of radio broadcasting but, by the end, the purpose has become confused and the deep emotional undertones McDonald is trying to create appear somewhat unnecessary.

Handing the audience headphones to listen through is a clever gimmick but they are completely unnecessary for around seventy percent of the show. They act more as a hindrance on the audience members' heads than beneficial audio tools.

FOMO is something different and is a fun hour spent with a very talented lady. However, if you are looking for a polished theatrical experience then this is maybe is not for you.