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Polly and Owen have nailed it. Both in successful careers and wildly in love, they feel ready to take on the world – and with Polly’s new promotion at work, it seems like life can’t get much better.
But when a mysterious new technology, promising a break from the daily grind, creeps into everyone’s phones, their world is turned upside down. As the line between physical and digital rapidly dissipates, and as the population begins to rebel, Polly and Owen are forced to question whether their definitions of reality and freedom are the same.
Presenting a disturbing but compassionate take on our potential digital future, and what it might mean for ‘life’ as we know it, Girl in the Machine is a timely exploration of technology in a world that’s falling apart.
The play is a laudable effort to involve the arts world in Edinburgh's science festival but, like Polly and Owen, it needs more humanity to make it really work.
It's a show that hums and throbs, not just because of Kim Moore's burbling electronic score, but through its plea for the flesh and blood messiness of life over the delusions provided by virtual pleasures during increasingly sour times.
If the play reaches a natural end a couple of times before its actual conclusion, it is nonetheless a high-stakes, will-she-won’t-she battle that keeps us on edge throughout.
The production does not possess the momentum needed to hit us emotionally, but the issue is one we are most familiar with and the strength of Sydney and Owen’s performances is very effective.
Girl in the Machine holds up a vision of the future that poses vital questions of our time about dependence and addiction; about whether the virtual is valued over the real. This is a play that gets in to your head.
Girl in the Machine is undoubtedly thought-provoking, emotionally haunting and genuinely revealing.
An emotionally and intellectually intense two-hander.
Stef Smith's tense, engaging two-hander.
Sydney and Dylan respond to the playwright’s careful delineation of the wonders and limitations of love with tender and moving performances.
There is, without question, something genuinely chilling in this play, but, like too much of the Traverse’s output, it fails to fulfil its promise.
It is a bleak and alarming story, told with an authentic and engaging voice.
Two moving performances, and intimate direction from Orla O'Loughlin add to Smith's chilling evocation of technolust as the ambient noises turn to screaming sirens and white noise and the promised technological advances devour all-too human emotions.
Stef Smith premieres Girl in the Machine at Traverse.