‘Will disturb & amuse, provoke & enthuse’: 52 SOULS – Chronic Insanity (Online review)

In Online shows, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Louise PennLeave a Comment

Chronic Insanity’s final show of 12 in lockdown may well be their best, with each virtual performance a random set of pieces chosen by the viewer from a deck of cards.

I ran the show twice to get a sense of what had been created, and each time I experienced a variety of emotions through the curated set of stories I saw. The random nature of the choice means so many permutations, but each video is connected with death is some way.

The familial rubs shoulders with tales from jobs close to death (soldier, photographer, doctor, doorman). There are broadcasts and explanations, examinations of songs. There are moments that will make you laugh, and others which pull you up short.

We hear the memories of children and the laissez-faire of teens. We eavesdrop on interviews, presentations, Zoom calls. We watch animation, magic and storytelling. Cancer, cytogenetics, suicide and searches march through in a grim, but engrossing progression. Death will happen to us all.

Technically, this is very similar to Myles Away with a Wix site driving links to YouTube videos. I watched on Microsoft Edge which autoplays video. There were no connection issues and the pieces, written by Nat Henderson and Joe Strickland, and directed by them with Megan Gates, are well-performed throughout.

Chronic Insanity has been one of the most exciting theatre company discoveries I have made in lockdown. Their immersive nature in a digital setting means even the most reticent audience member can participate, while the range of material they have produced in their shows is constantly innovative.

52 Souls will disturb and amuse, provoke and enthuse. I enjoyed both Conduit and Myles Away but this was far more satisfying and risk-taking. The audience is on control of the narrative they see, and I find that very exciting.

You can sign up to view 52 Souls here. Tickets are on a pay what you want basis. It is available until 6 September on demand, so experience as many of the scenes as you wish.

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Louise Penn
Louise Penn is an experienced writer and editor, published in a variety of outlets. She worked as a professional librarian for 25 years before going freelance full-time in 2018 and setting up her Lou Reviews blog. She is passionate about all types of theatre and the arts.
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Louise Penn on FacebookLouise Penn on InstagramLouise Penn on RssLouise Penn on Twitter
Louise Penn
Louise Penn is an experienced writer and editor, published in a variety of outlets. She worked as a professional librarian for 25 years before going freelance full-time in 2018 and setting up her Lou Reviews blog. She is passionate about all types of theatre and the arts.

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