Through the Screen

Orange and Pip Theatre
Orange and Pip Theatre

Through the Screen

We are constantly reminded of the need to adjust to a ‘new normal’ during the lockdown crisis. In Through the Screen (written and performed by Lilly Posnett, Poppy Forshaw-Perring and Annie Osborne), three students find themselves having to adjust to a new morality.

When their university closes during lockdown, three students, Jess (Posnett), Rosie (Forshaw-Perring) and Paige (Osborne), isolate at home and communicate via video chat. Although friends, they have little in common and their personalities differ. Rosie is studious and conscientious, Paige more of a partygoer and Jess cares for little other than her clothes and boyfriend. When Rosie spots a clue that Paige has betrayed Jess, the friends are thrown into confusion as they debate the right course of action to take.

Although the characters are young, the themes are scary grown-up stuff. The students contend with shifting allegiances within their friendship. The play asks the audience to consider whether normal rules of behaviour can be suspended during an emergency, such as lockdown, and if actions that usually would be repugnant can be acceptable under the circumstances.

Lilly Posnett draws the short straw with the self-absorbed Jess; as the character sees events solely from her personal viewpoint, her reactions are shallow and predicable. Annie Osborne shows more aspects of Paige with her manipulative, even crafty personality. Poppy Forshaw-Perring carries the emotional burden of the play, agonising over the morally correct action to take and whether it would be simpler to keep quiet if it means the friendship can continue unaffected.

Orange and Pip Theatre make excellent use of the techniques available online with different time periods represented by changes in clothing. However, although produced for the Internet, Through the Screen could work just as well on stage. Time shifts could be indicated by blackouts rather than changes in attire. There is, however, a lack of urgency in the play. One wonders if an external director might have been able to better focus the action and so increase drama.

Reviewer: David Cunningham