REVIEW: CLICKBAIT (Theatre 503)
Today everybody is a paparazzo. And it is not even necessary to be a celebrity to find your most embarrassing moments on Facebook or YouTube – although it helps. Nicola Barker has a problem. After attending a group sex party whilst holidaying in Ibiza, she is informed that her sexual excesses have been filmed and will be used against her. Nicola makes a bold decision and posts the video online herself. The video clip goes viral and turns Nicola into a celebrity. Against the advice of her older sister Gina but with much support from her younger sister Chloe, Nicola decides to turn her sex video into a business opportunity to change the nature of “amateur porn” forever. Appearing online in pink pyjamas, pink bunny slippers and a pink platinum wig, Nicola declares: “There is a porn star in all of you!” and promises a safe space for experimentation.
Nicola turns her initial embarrassment into a business idea which, over the course of six years and with the help of her two sisters, leads to a chain of sex booths all over London, “safe spaces” where people can film themselves whilst having sex with the option to share their videos. But Nicola’s plan of producing porn to empower women and eradicate exploitation changes objectives as the business offers become too lucrative to ignore. When disgruntled customer Kat complains about her video being shared against her wishes, Nicola makes the wrong decision and her sex business unravels.
Milly Thomas, best known for her play A First World Problem, which also opened at the Theatre 503 to critical acclaim, presents a darkly comic play about a woman who turns the tables on the perpetrator and becomes a big success by working in sex. Yet the business remains sleazy and Nicola’s position resembles that of a brothel queen. The play doesn’t really surprise us with the conclusion that sex is a dirty business and people are exploited. Thomas touches on a variety of issues without developing them very far.
Holly Race Roughan’s production is set in an open cube with a number of trolls in bear masks occasionally parading by reciting their tweets and commenting on the latest news about Nicola. Georgia Groome is very good as the entrepreneurial Nicola who discovers that morals are bad for business and loses herself in the process. The scene-stealing Alice Hewkin is a veritable fountain of ideas as the 15-year old Chloe who proudly declares: “I know how to use a computer. I am not 30!”
A funny and entertaining production that could have been more.
Reviewed by: Carolin Kopplin
Photo: Oliver King
Clickbait is playing at the Theatre 503 until 13 February
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes including an interval