I'd seen a lot of writing about The Nether when it was at the Royal Court. So when I heard it was moving into the West End I was quick to secure a ticket through LondonTheatreDirect.
In the previous reviews I'd read, it occurred to me that the subject matter was not discussed. This review will be no different, other than to say it is hard hitting, with adult themes and while the plot is set in the year 2050 it is extremely real and relevant to our modern day.
Writer Jennifer Haley is to be applauded for this cleverly written, chillingly pertinent, thought-provoking piece of theatre. Luke Halls whose video & graphics are, as expected with his long list of pedigree credits, visually stunning and complimented by the superb lighting of Paul Pyant.
Es Devlin once again delivers a brilliant set design. It's so clever, with the use of space seamlessly transferring you from the real world to the online cyber fantasy realm of the 'Hideaway'.
Jeremy Herrin directs this esteemed cast fabulously through a complex and ingenious plot.
The play opens with main cast members Amanda Hale (Morris) and Stanley Townsend (Sims) in an interview or rather an interrogation situation. The palpable intensity and drive to find the truth of the role playing room that is the hideaway is there from the start. The strong performances of the actors in this intelligent piece is a wonder to see. David Calder (Doyle) and Ivanno Jeremiah (Woodnut) both played their parts very well and were believable.
Whilst I'm not discussing the actual subject matter I will say that the blurred line between fact and fiction presented in the play could conceivably become a reality. Which raises the question of what would be the psychological impact of an online user indulging in their darkest fantasies?
If we are to 'act without consequence' can we return to the real world undamaged or removed from reality?
The Nether offers a full sensory experience allowing the user to choose an alter ego and enter a virtual world in which every fantasy however awful can be acted out.
This is a relatively short 1 Act play at 85 minutes without an interval but with such depth, I feel this is exactly how it should be. A break would create a danger in diluting its impact and intensity.
This is a remarkable and daring show which needs to be viewed with an open mind and appreciated for its ingenuity. This thought provoking and gripping cyber crime thriller MUST be seen. If The Nether is the future of the digital world - is it a future world we want to enter?
The Nether Review: ★★★★★
By Caroline Hanks-Farmer
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