Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?): Bin Heid

2016BREAKFA_TR (1)

Theatre

Traverse Theatre

15

09.00

16 – 28 Aug (not 22)

***

 This was the final play in the ‘set’ of four, and I found it (like yesterday’s one) disappointing after the excellence of the first two.

 

Jean has just been thrown out of her favourite karaoke pub late on a Thursday night.  She is cursing her way along when she notices a man’s legs coming out of a wheelie bin.  She engages him in a one-sided conversation, not really registering his presence but using him as the focus for a monologue about everything that is wrong in her life.  Gradually she begins to hear his faint cries of “help me”, and finally makes out that he is not saying he is a sideboard, but a cyborg…  He starts telling Jean of his fear that ‘they’ will find him, and tries to warn her of the terrible fate that ‘they’ have in store for everyone – he has had an implant in his head through which his employers control him, and warns her that her future is also endangered – “what’s been done to me is the future”.

 

The play is making a good point, but not in a way that engaged me: a rambling monologue for drunken Jean was followed by one for the mostly invisible Bin Heid.  It was hard to feel much sympathy for Jean’s rants, and almost impossible to engage with Bin Heid because his body was inside the bin – we couldn’t see his face, or gather anything much from his tone of voice.

 

The concept is chilling, and not very far from the current reality – the implant is to control the man’s actions and increase his productivity: it takes over life and leaves him feeling that he is unable to see in colour, to engage with his wife and family, to enjoy anything;  there is no rest from the voices and noise in his head, controlling every action, getting him driving 30-hour stretches.  He warns of the future – they’re doing it to you too, subtle changes introduced at work without you really noticing, dividing workers by involving them in arguments at work so they can’t unite and confront/ oppose the changes.

 

Jean’s drunken ramblings, self-centred and oblivious to the plight of Bin Heid, were good, and in good Weegie: but suddenly she lost her accent and dialect when responding to Bin Heid’s warnings – how credible was this?

 

If I’d seen this piece first, would I have been put off the others?  Yesterday’s and today’s suffer by comparison with the outstanding first two, when the characters were alive with electric energy.  The latter plays were very much in two parts, with the first part credible and the second somehow failing to come alive.  Might it have been any better if Bin Heid had come out of the bin earlier, and allowed us to engage with him as a person rather than a disembodied voice?  It was hard to feel any connection with him and his plight, and his character didn’t quite come over as real, believable.  Again, was it the script, or the acting?

 

It’s been fascinating to experience four authors’ imaginings of the future direction in which our technology-obsessed society is heading.  I sincerely hope that the warnings they contain are taken to heart!

 Mary Woodward