I'm not seeing a play tonight. Pick, Choose and Refuse is cancelled, we are told, and there will be something else. I try not to be disappointed by the promise of a screening of two digital works from the NSDF Hub. I want to be generous, but after two years of pandemic-enforced digital theatre, I’ve given up all pretence of enjoying it.
I hate digital theatre because it always seems to be defined by the absence of liveness. My experience of it is a haunted one, the absent presence of the live performance hovering in the background, asking what I could have had instead, if only I’d been in a better place at a better time.
So it’s a surprise to find myself, afterwards, raving about Freight Theatre's Move Fast and Break Things. The opening monologue sets the context for a story about a Google employee’s disappearance from the internet, combining theatre’s capacity for meta self-awareness with film’s disorientating shifts in angle and camera range. It’s unsettling, exceptionally well-paced, and for the first time ever in my experience, completely unhaunted.
It’s the next morning, and I’m still unpicking how and why. I’m coming to the conclusion that Move Fast escaped the absence of liveness by owning it’s not quite theatre, not quite film identity. Rather than attempting to use one medium as a blunt instrument to record another, it held them both in the same space to create something unique and whole in its own right, greater than the sum of its medium parts.