Park Theatre, London – until 1 July 2017
Guest reviewers: @loxsmith & @amychristel1
Twitstorm pitches itself as the ‘hilarious exploration of what can happen when the self-righteousness of social media gets out of hand.’ As a regular on Twitter, my interest was piqued instantly. We are told that the main character, Guy Manton, is a national treasure and the host of a popular TV show, until he gets caught up in a twitter frenzy after a remark was posted without his knowledge. As this is hardly an uncommon feature of Twitter now, I was curious to see the direction this play took.
I wasn’t expecting the play to touch on so many other big topics, including race, liberalism, the politics of charity giving and othering. Personally, I’d have liked some of these themes to be explored further. There were some interesting comments on the nature of charitable giving, with Guy’s wife regularly noting ‘it was just a small direct debit.’ For me this summed up the modern phenomenon of feel- good giving well.
On the whole, however, these big topics were clichéd and under developed. Stereotypes were plentiful, from the generic African conman to the chic-lit wife, via the egoistical celebrity. I didn’t think any of the characters were believable or original. The most authentic part of the play was the soliloquy from Guy attempting to make a public apology. This speech felt like we were seeing the inner most views of Chris England evangelising on how political correctness has gone too far. It would not surprise me if that soliloquy was the first thing that was written, with the rest of the story cobbled around it to make it an appropriate length show. I felt uncomfortable early on and initially I couldn’t place why this was. On reflection, I think it was exactly because I wasn’t the intended viewer for Twitstorm.
The small cast performed well, but the problem was they just didn’t have a good script to begin with. From the unbelievable entry of Ike, and immediate acceptance into the family, to the come-good ending, it was just all too easy. This felt more farce than comedy-cum-social commentary. Unfortunately, Twitstorm just didn’t live up to its potential, and the mix of gravity and comedy was often mistimed and ill judged. It is once again the declaration that middle class, middle aged white man can do no wrong, and if all else fails, go find yourself in Africa for 3 months and the world will forgive you. Personally, I am looking for more nuance in a story and sensitivity when dealing with weighty topics. If it were up to me Guy would have stayed away far longer…