Malaprop’s bout against the ferocity and paradoxes of the internet is dexterous and bold and sprawling, but for me, somewhat lacking in focus and heart.
A journalist grapples with a brief to write about professional wrestling. Self-selecting her own ‘entrance theme’ like the WWE greats, Malaprop’s Jericho is a bout against the ferocity and paradoxes and allurements of the internet – a place where news and entertainment, truth and fantasy, are catastrophically and mesmerisingly blurred.
We watch as Maeve O’Mahony’s character discovers some horrifying facts about WWE’s chief executive, finds all sorts of metaphors within the sport relating to communication in the digital realm, and attempts to patch up a fall-out with her mother (relating to opposite opinions about the Irish abortion referendum – plus a viral meme) over iMessage.
The Giant Ground Sloth also gets a look-in, as does ASMR. And the political climate, and the process of making theatre. To say it’s a sprawling and bold and complicated text is an understatement; one that’ll delight those who want a grapple with fragmented and tricksy, but unmistakably dexterous, writing themselves.
O’Mahony has a formidable stage presence, the chemistry between her and the tech-operator-slash-secondary-character is definitely there – and Molly O’Cathain’s design is economical but striking and as smart as the writing.
But personally, Jericho engaged my brain but not my heart. I appreciated its intelligence and suppose I found it stimulating occasionally, but can’t confidently describe it as either accessible or entertaining. Malaprop’s intent is very possibly that it ‘overwhelms’ – and credit to them if so, as extended sections certainly made me feel like I was drowning in the piece as much as O’Mahony was drowning in the vortexes of the World Wide Web. But I left a bit dazzled (in figurative headlights, rather than beauty…), craving a bit more focus, a bit more audience hand-holding and – I think – a bit more kindness.