There’s a bittersweet irony that, after travelling from Bristol to experience theatre for the first time in ages, I was treated to NSDF’s first ever cinema screening. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Big Creative Academy were unable to perform Pick Choose and Refuse so I was shown one of their previous works: Beneath The Surface.
Set during the pandemic, the short film was portrayed via online multimedia websites such as Zoom, Snapchat and YouTube. Based around online lessons prior to a coursework deadline, our five main characters try to maintain balance between studying and interacting with the outside world whilst trapped at home.
They try to reach out to each other for homework assistance via video calls, but there’s an underlying struggle unique to each person. Loneliness, neglect and abuse linger in the background of make-up tutorials and live-streaming. Simple actions of folding clothes or misspelt texts amplify struggles, embracing nuanced storytelling.
Their insecurities and ways of coping presented me with feelings that were all too familiar. Although I was in a new location looking forward to something different, it made me reflect on where I’ve come from. Contemplations that go further back than the pandemic but to my A-Levels as well – the stress for success. Sharing their working class background meant I was hypersensitive to the other struggles presented, but fortunately never encountered to the same extent. It shows that no matter how far you may go or progress, you can’t run away from those issues at home.