Cyberspace Dreams (Covid Monologues Vol 3)
Elysium Theatre Company
Rayna Campbell’s Cyberspace Dreams is unusual amongst the third volume of Covid Monologues in being light in tone.
The COVID pandemic had a devasting impact upon Maggie (Orline Riley). As she waits for the online coach who is guiding her through the process of establishing an effective online business to sort out her dodgy connection, Maggie reflects on how her life has changed. Not only has she lost her job and realised the ineffectiveness of the government, but she has also begun to question the veracity of online postings and claims made by bloggers.
Orline Riley gives Maggie a sense of injured innocence. She is constantly on the verge of outrage, recalling the inadequacy of government intervention in the crisis and of her current online tutors. Riley creates a down-to-earth character; there is the shy acknowledgment of a lack of self-worth and the limitations of her ambitions—the best she can hope to achieve is to be able to afford to keep a pet.
Rayna Campbell’s script brings back the bizarre situation of lockdown: "Even Tesco’s was eerie". A strong fear of obsolescence hangs over the play as Maggie questions her life choices and realises she never really had a stable employment. Maggie’s dry wit helps her cope with the dawning realisation she cannot rely on outside agencies for help but must find her own way. The observations are pin-sharp with online moaning like being back at school and social media like tofu—capable of tasting however is required.
It is hard to avoid the sense for Maggie, who lives alone and does not mention friends or family, employment offered not just a wage but a chance to socialise. Jake Murray’s direction, with Maggie eagerly leaning forward for a chat, suggests someone who just wants to make contact, however briefly.
Cyberspace Dreams is a fine portrayal of a character coming to terms with past decisions and struggling to establish herself in the Internet age.
Reviewer: David Cunningham