Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
Cast: Leah St Luce and Jadesola Odunjo

Meet Carleen and Crystal. The influencers with cultural commentary that will have you in stitches! Love them or hate them, there’s no stopping their fast-growing online following. Offline, Carleen has her reservations about their cyber personas, but she idolises Crystal and would follow her anywhere…even to FLIP!, the new social media giant that has everyone hooked – and Carleen and Crystal are no exception; especially when it seems that their videos could make them famous. 

Superstardom, followers, fame, influence, money: it’s all just one click away. FLIP! is the answer to everything they’ve ever dreamed of. But is it too good to be true?

is a seventy-five minute, one act production by Fuel in association with Alphabetti Theatre, about two best friends’ addiction to social media and getting famous. Starring Leah St Luce and Jadesola Odunjo as Carleen and Crystal, who make content together for a modest following, but quickly discover the downside to online success when their comment section turns on them.

In attempt to escape the negativity they move to new platform Flip, and in our world it’s the equivalent of creators moving from YouTube to TikTok. The plan works, the internet forgets they were ever mad with Carleen and Crystal and their content takes off again, until the same thing happens again.

Writer Rachael Ofari challenges the idea that fast fame isn’t the stuff of dreams that a lot of would-be influencers think it is, something you will already know if you’ve seen internet personalities come and go as often as I have. The humorous use of pop culture references may fly over the head of those who aren’t as chronically online as the rest of us, the ukulele apology video for example was particularly good, and the recency of the reference was impressive. So often when anecdotes about the internet pop up in film and TV for example, it’s very quick to date the text. With FLIP!, because of its structure, it could be easily updated with whatever is trending at the time.

There are a number of content warnings that come with this play including racism, homophobia, fatphobia and death, these heavier subjects were handled really well. It’s something that’s said that you can’t see the effect your comments have on those you’re writing them on, well in this play you can. Watching as Crystal retreats into herself, becoming less and less confident with each comment is very poignant. The longer the play goes on the less energy it has, as though the app is draining the life from the characters, which isn’t entirely untruthful.

FLIP! goes on to explore the effects of the advancements of AI and how online it’s hard to discern what’s real and what isn’t. Signing up to all these apps, sharing your face and voice with the world is like signing away your identity; people can make you do and say whatever they want, without you ever needing to be present. This almost haunting conclusion to the play, mixed with the humour and high energy performances from the two actresses, leaves you feeling like you’ve really gone on a journey in just over an hour.

The simplicity of the production really allowed the emotional side of the story to shine, limited props were used, and the spotlighting was perfectly choreographed, but most effective was the sound design. Familiar sound bites creating live TikTok's - I mean Flips, and the use of pre-recorded voice overs to convey AI vs real life was genius.

The plentiful laugh-out-loud moments and relatable social commentary makes FLIP! a very accessible first show, as well as what I’m sure would be a memorable trip for those who frequent the theatre.

You can book tickets to see FLIP! here.

Written by Rebecca Stobart

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