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Festival Review: Going Viral ****

Lorna Irvine reviews a 'superb' award-winning production.

On a long-haul flight from Kuala Lumpur to Heathrow, a strange weeping bout breaks out during an in-flight movie. One man, Daniel Bye, remains immune and is hounded by the press...deemed an unfeeling zombie, a pariah.

In this compelling one-man monologue, the affable Bye is part science lecturer, part eloquent cheeky friend down the pub, as he posits a new kind of disease, scrutinising the pernicious systems of social control by the media, peer groups and so on, as well as explaining how genuine viruses spread—for example, by telling the audience how only 8% of the human genome is virus and that measles are easily spread as they're airborne.

Insightful, playful and compassionate, ‘viral’ has of course a double meaning here in our social media savvy times. Liquorice Allsorts are deployed to show how human cells work and diseases mutate, but the piece becomes more chilling in tone towards the end. Shards of sound and light beams are beautifully used in minimal, effective staging.

A deserving winner of his Fringe First, Bye's intellect is worn lightly, and the show is superb from the friendly start as he sits in the audience to paranoid, twitchy finish alone on stage, scrubbing furiously at his hands.

Going Viral is superb—definitely one which will provoke a dialogue, and well worth spreading.

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