Review By Yasmin Elahi
They say truth is stranger than fiction and THAT Production Company’s latest show, ‘I Love You, Bro’ proves just that. Masterfully directed by Timothy Wynn, the audience was taken on a perilous journey of love and deceit in the age of technology. Based on the true story of a 14-year-old boy from Manchester, THAT Production Company’s interpretation of the script brought technology to the forefront in a show that was both moving and unsettling.
Written by Australian playwright, Adam J.A. Cass the show is based on frightening true events. A teenager struggling with his identity and vivid imagination sets down a dark path of catfishing, leading to deadly consequences. Featuring a single actor inhabiting all roles, the playwright has captured the isolation and desperation of the real Johnny in a show that holds its audience captive until the very last scene.
Director, Timothy Wynn did an outstanding job. His blocking choices ensured the audience never got bored. Though there is only one actor in the play, the dynamic and unique direction kept the action and movement on stage captivating and enticing. The physical motifs he incorporated into scene changes and the different physicality and voices he directed for each of the 'characters' meant the stage was brimming with life, despite there being only one actor physically present. His use of a sheer screen to project images, almost like holograms, was exceptionally creative. Other technologically inspired choices conjured up the image of being inside cyberspace, with very effective results.
Sound design by Chris Patrick Hansen was immersive. The use of ominous low ambient sounds juxtaposed with computer notifications created an online world. Coupled with lighting design by Nathaniel Knight, the tech aspects of the show were flawlessly designed and executed. An eerie blue glow filled the stage, such as one might expect from a computer screen, further creating the world of the internet era. Set design by Peter Keavy was simplistic. The use of a fairly stripped-back stage, with enough elements to keep the show dynamic, allowed the actor to shine and gave him space to physically inhabit the stage.
Nic Davidson was exceptional in the role of Johnny. He interacted with the audience and led them on a complex and dark journey. He was also responsible for playing the countless other characters that created Johnny’s web of deception. Davidson’s sincere performance, physical acting and consistent accent throughout the play was stellar. His ability to hold an audience’s attention for 90 minutes without so much as a stumble over his lines is something to be admired. At only 19 years of age, Davidson is already an accomplished and talented actor.
Overall, ‘I Love You, Bro’ is outstanding. The story itself is an unbelievable true story in its own right. Coupled with Wynn’s unique and creative directing, the precision of the sound and lighting and Davidson’s faultless performance which brought Johnny to life with heart and soul, THAT Production Company’s interpretation resulted in a piece of theatre that will captivate audiences long after the show has ended.