Moving away from home to university can be a time to grow up, to step away from your childhood and explore life; broaden those horizons. That’s certainly the case for Cassie (Tara Phillips) and Sam (Georgia Barnwell), two best friends who have moved away to attend different universities. They are determined to retain their lifelong friendship; not just with each other, but with their small gang of childhood friends, some of whom remain at home. And so, with the wonders of Facetime and Zoom, they try to keep in touch.
Being away for the first time, creating new friends and experiences, also becomes the perfect opportunity for Cassie to finally come out as bisexual. She does so first to Sam, who, whilst not quite understanding, shows acceptance. But when Sam accidently outs Cassie in the middle of a Zoom chat with that group of childhood friends, things become more complicated.
In a similar vein to Twenties, another show playing in theSpaceUK season, there is an emphasis on having your worldview expanded by moving away from your childhood home and friends; that act of growing up. But where Twenties demonstrated the more negative side of things, Misorientation flips it, showing how it helps these young adults to leave behind narrow viewpoints; not just their own but those of their friends, some of whom are still safely cocooned in the family home, yet to find their way out into the big wide world. There is a marked distinction in attitudes between those who have stayed at home and those who have moved away, entering adulthood.
Misorientation revolves around two key events. First of these is Sam accidently outing Cassie, and the second is an incident on a night out that leaves Cassie questioning herself. It’s the combination of these two episodes, their aftermath and the reaction of her friends to both, that form the core of the play. During the play’s transition into the second half there feels a brief disconnect between Cassie coming out as bisexual and that night out, and for a short moment you might worry that the two are being shoehorned together. But it’s only a minor hiccup, and it’s soon clear that the first event is essential to drive her friends’ reactions to the second.
There are some issues with this production. It edges on being simplistic in addressing how attitudes towards a person’s sexuality can vary, and how you can grow apart from childhood friends. But when your runtime is only around half an hour, sometimes you do have to be a little blunt in your approach. Additionally, whilst the filming and editing are of a good quality, some of the acting beyond that of Cassie and Sam feels a little stiff. However, these small gripes are most likely a consequence of it being made in lockdown, the actors all separate, so it’s harder to bounce off each other as you would on a real stage.
Misorientation is another play that feels at home in this season that has been so well put together by theSpaceUK. It aptly addresses the difficulties of coming out as LGBTQ+ to lifelong friends, and dealing with the differing reactions. As I’ve said about a number of online plays recently, it really wouldn’t feel out of place if run at one of the many fringe theatres we are all eager to return to soon.
Written and directed by: Alice Walker
Produced by: Skylar Turnbull Hurd for The Nottingham New Theatre
Misorientation is playing as part of Online@TheSpaceUK Season 2, and will be available free until 31 January. This show, plus many others, can be found on the website below.