Pros: Incredibly energetic, convincing performances and a smart script.
Cons: After a while the anger on stage becomes overwhelming and, consequently, less compelling.
Often, I’ll be sitting in a restaurant and I’ll notice that there are countless tables of couples who are glued to their phones. I sit there thinking “do they not have anything to say to each other?” And then my phone pings – a like on Instagram – a feeling of gratification. Although I don’t like to admit it, I can also be consumed by my digital world. The digital age and all that comes with it has taken over like an inexorable alternate reality. Except it’s not alternate at all. This is not an episode of Black Mirror. We really do live in a world where people are validated by “likes” and “comments” and “shares”. Blush is a fast-paced and clever expose on the dark, sexual side of this digital world – revenge porn.
Charlotte Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith play five characters, all of whom are affected one way or another by online abuse. They both flit between the characters with incredible ease. Each character is convincing and interesting, meaning that my attention was held throughout this 75-minute whirlwind production. Not only are Josephine and Foxsmith’s characterisations impressive, but they carry out some incredible physical performances. The production crescendos to such heights that they exert themselves to the point that it looks like one of them might pass out.
While I understand the thought process behind this physical side of the production, when it’s combined with the rapid script and ever raising levels of anger, I feel like the power of the production is diminished. The more compelling sections are the quieter, more profound admissions of the characters: when the woman who feels invisible suddenly feels seen on social media, when the father realises he has taught his daughter to be ashamed of sex.
Overall, this is an intense but eye-opening production. The talent showcased by Josephine and Foxsmith is, at times, outstanding. But, more than anything else, it leaves us with a complex question we must all ask ourselves. Where do we go from here? How do we regain digital autonomy? How do we make the internet a safe space for young people? I think the answer is, we can’t.