An honest and thought-provoking study into the psychological effects of modern media. Human asks the question: what does it mean to be a girl?
I have a vivid memory, from a time when I was in preschool, of being ‘made’ to be one of the girl Power Rangers (the pink one) each time I played outside with the other boys. It left my childhood self singed with the impression that being a girl was somehow an inferior position to be in – something I’ve (thankfully) grown out of thinking. But every now and then, I still think about that experience as a reminder of the patriarchal (and heteronormative) society we live in. Although there’s continuing efforts being made by modern creatives to smash preconceptions of gender (for instance, the BBC’s recent Doctor Who casting announcement), there is still a long history of conscious and sub-conscious reinforcement that needs to be undone. Many young people don’t even question the drastically different expectations society has of the two sexes. It’s just seen as ‘normal’ because it’s never been experienced any other way. Human tells the story of two sisters whose lives are inextricably linked to the fickle cesspit that is ‘social media’.
The play analyses the complex psychological associations the two girls made when they were young and how those associations were a gateway to their future phone, Facebook and Instagram addictions. The character’s attitudes to social status, body image and sexuality manifest – as writer Brooke Jones would suggest – from the sibling hierarchy formed between the two characters and combined with the suggestive power of children’s toys and cartoon programmes. These themes culminate in a dramatic conclusion where the younger sister, Piper, gets into a terrifying situation with a man she met on Tinder.
Brooke Jones and Holly Kellingray play the eldest and the youngest sibling respectively. Their energetic performances are incredibly engaging, handling the uncomfortable source material with honesty and fearlessness. There were times where I felt Kellingray could up the intensity and commitment further. But as Piper, she portrayed adolescent insecurity perfectly. Jones was an absolute joy to watch, never making a move, sound or word that wasn’t perfectly timed and considered. Her bold interactions with audience members took Human into ‘In Yer Face’ territory, which fitted the material exceptionally.
Word on the street is that Human is going up to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. This’ll be your opportunity to see this intriguing piece of theatre for yourself. The concept could do with some further development – but all in all, it’s an exciting trip to theatre and suggested that great things are on the horizon for Hooked Theatre.