Theatrical Conspiracy Theoretical!
“I looked up after reading the play and felt like the world had changed. Everything looked different. People need to see this. “
What to say about a play that is a conspiracy? In this post 1984 world how much that would have been judged as conspiracy theory has turned out to be truth? My daughter got annoyed when she felt that Alexa was listening in on private conversations – there were too many incidences that she felt couldn’t be mere coincidences but some subtle plot to increase advertising revenues. Theatrevibe is one of the few review sites which doesn’t charge and has no adverts for wrinkly skin “cures” or other irrelevant advertising but are you being monitored in some other way?
We already know when we are photographed in many places, where our internet data is recorded, where our car number plates are stored and where our phone and textual conversations are monitored. The debate exists between individual freedom and state security against terrorism. So to Dave Davidson and “their” new play called provocatively, That Is Not Who I Am.
We start with the Playwright (Priyanga Burford) and her narrative about the Quilter family. Noah Quilter (Jake Davies) meets Celeste Greer (Siena Kelly) first, on a blind date, after meeting on a national paper dating site. They live together, get married and have a baby while under surveillance. Noah starts to withdraw from their virtual lives and has followers who read about his fears. The deep seated surveillance necessitates the degree of secrecy needed and why the true author of this play cannot be revealed beforehand.
We warm to the Quilters being so involved in their intimate life and confided in by them. They talk about 9/11. “The twin towers looked like an explosion, not like being hit by a plane.” Noah tells Celeste all about being part of a project to introduce Princes William and Harry to ordinary children by altering some of the Etonian intake.
I do remember how a friend’s baby monitor picked up telephone conversations from the house next door. “Data is the new oil.” The Quilters appear to be watching footage of Bill Gates until they pick up that he is wearing an Apple watch which is unthinkable and realise that is probably not authentic.
Noah keeps everything on two spare computer drives which are securely hidden until they are burgled and the drives are found and stolen.
For those conspiracy minded there are clear lines leading towards what happens to the Quilters and their baby and cat. On press night we were given a text wrapped in an anonymous brown, sealed wrapper with CONFIDENTIAL rubber stamped on the envelope. “Intriguing,” I thought. Having seen the play, is my disbelief suspended? Maybe. The performances from Siena Kelly as Celeste and Jake Davies are powerful and involving. Naomi Dawson’s sets are beautiful. There has been a news blackout so it is no good searching the internet because nothing will be found about the Quilters thanks to D notices and the like. Is this what we need to get people into the audience with a sense of mystery and curiosity? Did we really land on the moon? Was Princess Diana killed by the British Secret Service? Are Covid injections destroying our future fertility and carrying microbots to control our thinking? Maybe or maybe not?
The real playwright’s most celebrated work was one where East cloned with West. Answers on a postcard please. The play is called 7 letters Part Rue mixed Ecstasy.
by Lucy Kirkwood
Directed by Lucy Morrison
Director: Lucy Morrison
Designer: Naomi Dawson
Movement: Chi-San Howard
Lighting Designer: Anna Watson
Sound Designer: Ian Dickinson for Autograph
Video Designer: Gimo Ricardo Green
Intimacy and Fight Director: Yarit Dor
Running Time: One hour 45 minutes without an interval
Booking to 16th July 2022
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
Royal Court Theatre
London SW1W 4AS
Phone: 020 7565 5000
Tube: Sloane Square
by Lizzie Loveridge
at the Royal Court
on 16th June 2022