STAGE REVIEW: Upload/Unplug @ ARC, Stockton (03.05.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Pell Ensemble – Upload/Unplug by Mira Loew

ARC’s theatre is scaled down to an 80 seat capacity to bring Pell Ensemble‘s interactive social experiment Upload/Unplug to life.

Under the guise of providing information for the fictional conglomerate giant EPOQ, Pell Ensemble have produced an immersive experience from the moment you step into the theatre. As speakers echo instructions about the ‘on-boarding’ process, 40 members of the audience are handed tablets that become interactive throughout the show, prompting you to fill out a survey with as much personal information as you wish to divulge.

You’d be right to feel this survey was invasive, as after a heavily choreographed group dance given by performers from Teesside University, we see our information become part of a spectacular technological projection swirling around the lead performer of ‘David’. Amongst a sterile setting of white clothing on a white background, titters from the audience rippled after spotting their own selfies projected onto the screen, lightening what becomes a 35-minute solo contemporary dance number.

Described as a live gaming experience, Upload/Unplug does disperse simple interactive games throughout, where your proficiency at completing tasks directly affects the dance of AI/Human hybrid, ‘David’. Open-ended and, at a time when data privacy is more important than ever, the show leaves you wondering what the information you give day to day is being used for. More of a dance exhibition than a theatre show, Upload/Unplug leaves you unsettled about the world you’re about to step back into.

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