Face 2 Face, Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Review

Clockwise: David Sewell, Aimee Rose Wooding, Larissa Oates, Sophie Hurst, Luke Mazzamuto and Josh Arow

In this age of digital technology, it is perhaps paradoxical that aspects of genuine human communication have been lost. But nothing is irreversible… Written and directed by Luke Mazzamuto, Face 2 Face addresses this quandary in a comical fashion. Ben (David Sewell) has recently moved back to where he grew up and decides to a visit the local coffee shop for old times’ sake. However, the establishment has changed beyond recognition, with everything geared towards the use of technology. Also, ordering a beverage there has become as complicated as Steve Martin’s coffee scene in LA Story

In any case, Ben notices Emma (Sophie Hurst) sitting quietly there, who not only ignores her phone, she chooses to read A BOOK. Despite not being ‘on his best form’, Ben manages to pique Emma’s interest, as he’s very different from her self-important boss Charlie (Luke Mazzamuto) and the other people in her office. But is having a shared ambivalence to technology enough to build a future together..?

Face-2-Face-The-HugWhile Emma and Ben are the ‘normal’ people at the centre of this tale, it is the ‘eccentric’ peripheral characters who set the tone of the play’s world. There’s Adonis (Josh Arow) the proprietor of ‘Tap-echino’ who rather than partake of conventional beverages, drinks chai tea with a shot of espresso instead. Then there’s ‘Susan’ (Larissa Oates) the AI barista, who shows some ‘interesting’ emotional responses. Curiously, one of the ‘darker’ functions of Susan is to recognise everyone who is registered to live in London and to report to the authorities anyone not on her records. A warning of the shape of things to come perhaps…

If Charlie is the bane of Emma’s life, the arrival of Ben’s ex-girlfriend Jane (Aimee Rose Wooding) makes things a bit awkward, especially as she’s still interested in him. One of the most poignant moments in the show – which is relevant to being online, as well ‘real life’ – is about showing our ‘best selves’. In the case of Ben and Emma, even before they are officially an item, they feel the need to embellish their ‘perfect lives’ to Jane. Nothing like a successful ex to invoke feelings of insecurity and one-upmanship…

Tinder, Bumble, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… So many apps and social media forums to show distillled versions of ourselves. As Face 2 Face humorously points out, the use of technology in relationships has escalated to the point where they are inseparable. Yet at the end of the day, if you don’t have real human connections, how do you cope with reality? There’s no quick-fix upgrade to having a better life…

© Michael Davis 2018


Face 2 Face runs at Venue 53 – theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, Theatre 3 on Aug 9-11, 13-18, 20-25 (3.05pm)


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