Saturday 27 April 2019

See-Through @ Camden People's Theatre

See-Through @ Camden People's Theatre

What do you need to become a YouTube star? A camera, an internet connection and an opinion. Or so it seems. But what is the impact of becoming a vlogger? Not on the internet, but on yourself?

Performer Claire Gaydon decided to test that out and the result is this new piece of smart experimental theatre, See-Through, at Camden People's Theatre. It's equal parts documentary and performance, though the line between the two is blurred. Gaydon performs with her back to the audience as we watch the narrative play out on a projected screen - she's right in front of us, yet she's intangible, a personality on a screen. Vloggers aim to be relatable, but do we ever really know them?

Over the course of the short hour, we watch Gaydon as she researches, creates a logo and a theme tune, and begins to upload her videos. She does challenge videos and storytime videos, gets her mum involved, and projects a friendly, charming and amiable persona, all in the name of content. This is all somewhat a parody of actual vloggers - a funny performance...that's also real.

Tellingly, her first success is a ridiculous video about smoking weed and having sex. Of course, it's the crazy ideas that are most likely to go viral - resulting in both views and shocking, negative comments. More of these types of video build up, until the climactic video of a horrific revelation - but is that real, or just part of the performance in the endless hunt for clicks and likes?

It's clear that being a vlogger takes its toll on Gaydon's mental health and her relationship with her family. The moment she finally turns to the audience to sing is quietly haunting. The show is an eye-opening look behind the screen, yet we never really discover what she learned from this experience, or what the potential positive impact was. As a documentary, See-Through doesn't fully get to grips with the vlogging experience. But as a narrative, its clever ambiguity keeps us questioning long after it ends.


Watch: See-Through runs at the Camden People's Theatre until 27th April.