See-Through : Review – Thursday 21st February 2019, The Other Room @ Porter’s Cardiff

See-Through is a fascinating show brimming with potential

★★★☆☆

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up, and who were your role models? Perhaps a footballer, or a scientist? Well according to new research, a growing number of children want to pursue a career as a vlogger or YouTube star. As the way people interact and consume content changes, new careers and opportunities will be presented to those who are able to find a gap in the market and capitalize on them. In See-Through, performer Claire Gaydon creates a semi-autobiographical multimedia experience about pursuing online fame, and what happens when you expose your innermost secrets to strangers on the other side of a computer screen.

Facing away from the audience, Gaydon sits at a laptop – the contents of which are projected on a screen. We are introduced to Claire, and told from the off that this is based on a true story (with the caveat that some moments have been fabricated). Before long Claire decides that she’s going to create a YouTube channel. But what should see say? Early scenes focus on Gaydon finding her voice, or her “character”. What is she going to say, and why? Clips on screen in which Gaydon interacts with friends of hers who are composers, designers and photographers are interesting. They discuss branding, style and content. The message is clear – while not traditionally a “product”, vlogging is still something that can be packaged, presented and consumed.  Rather than a fictional story however, the product that’s on offer is a voyeuristic peek inside someone’s life – regardless of how truly authentic this might actually be.

Having tried a few different styles of vlogs, Gaydon stumbles upon what type of videos get more hits – stories about her sex life and difficult or traumatic experiences. As the age old addage says – sex sells, and a Vlog entitled “Sex and Weed” gets 10x more views than others. Scenes in which Gaydon talks about these intensely personal experiences to camera are well crafted and emotive, delving into moments which some wouldn’t dare share with a significant other, let alone the internet. A section in which Gaydon asks an audience member (lucky me) to read out various comments received on a video help to demonstrate the huge array of responses that vloggers get from the kind “OMG you’re so relate-able” to the horrific “I’d have sex with you and leave you in a ditch”. This section cleverly teases the ugly underbelly of internet trolls, before tucking it back under the carpet.

See-Through is a fascinating show brimming with potential, which tackles the emerging industry of the lifestyle vlogger in an engaging way. The combination of live performance, pre-recorded videos and audience interaction is seamlessly performed. Yet it feels like when the show ends, it has only just started scraping the surface. It throws up questions about authenticity, performing yourself online, and the voyeuristic nature of those who spend hours watching videos. These topics are tossed up in the air and given a moment to shine, before settling back down into the dust without being examined in any great depth. Is sharing your deepest secrets online a healthy or safe thing to do, or is it just a narcissistic way of getting recognition? Can you truly be authentic online, or in an ever crowded market of other vloggers, will you always resort to more and more desperate ways of getting hits?

 

See-Through  is running at The Other Room Theatre until the 24th February 2019. For more information and tickets click here

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