Myles Away is the second of three virtual theatre productions to be streamed over three months by Nottingham based theatre company, Chronic Insanity. The production is also the eleventh performance in their ‘Twelve Productions in Twelve Months’. It follows Myles, the transgender non-binary lead developer of a revolutionary piece of VR technology, as they are unexpectedly fired from their position. Through a series of audio clips, interactive choices, artificially intelligent characters and a secret mission for the viewer to execute, the audience member helps Myles claim what is rightfully theirs, so they can use their software for the greater good. Myles Away is available to experience from 27th July – 2nd August 2020.
Tennexa Freeman and Joe Strickland’s script is politically charged and brilliantly effective. Filled to the brim with satire, references to the current political climate, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of trans-exclusionary radical feminism, Myles Away is rebellious and outrageous. The dialogue between the two characters is natural as well as engaging, forcing the viewer to think about moral decisions they wouldn’t usually have to. The parody of the online technology news show was superbly written and hilarious. It was refreshing to have such different experiences throughout the piece, making the viewer feel properly immersed in this alternate universe.
Schereeya Reed’s direction is complex and intuitive and makes the interface compelling and very entertaining. The direction also makes the piece feel like a live ‘Black Mirror’ episode, while also entering political landscapes regarding race and gender identity that mainstream television would be afraid to approach. The fearlessness and determination of the direction via the show’s message and provocative nature is palpable and a key asset to the piece’s success. This is reminiscent of the theatre company’s previous production, Conduit, in which I saw massive potential, and the direction of this piece shows that potential being met.
The performances of all the actors in Myles Away carry the piece at a high momentum for the entire duration, and utilise all of the limited resources they possibly could. Strickland, also the writer and co-director of the piece, is hilarious as internet host, Connor White (the character’s name also being a charming reference to the previous work of the company, for people that have been following them during these online premieres). The character’s irritating personality, or lack thereof, is an excellent parody of the ever-growing world of online tabloid shows. Markese McLamb is a suave and eerily charming antagonist as Will, masking evil actions as ‘forward-thinking business decisions’. The character is very similar to a lot of the seemingly emotionless founders of massive technology conglomerates and McLamb’s performance shows a relentlessness and emotionlessness that makes the audience root for Myles even more.
Speaking of, TL Thompson’s performance as Myles is fantastic. Ranging from eerily cryptic to sympathy-provoking, resulting in a rabble rousing nature that convinces the viewer to infiltrate this massive company in the name of anarchy for positive change. Thompson’s determined and calculated performance makes the piece what it is, and without them, it would lose a lot of momentum.
As someone who previously watched Conduit and saw a great amount of potential, I can’t describe how happy I am to be able to say that that potential has been well and truly met through Myles Away, which should leave any viewer, including myself, excited and interested to see what Chronic Insanity will do next.