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Review: psyche404error - Online - Melbourne Fringe Festival

Review by Taylor Kendal

In a world that is so overrun with social media and the overbearing influence of technology, who’s to say that the old world hasn’t caught up with the times and transitioned to the modern age?

Created by and starring Margot Tanjutco, comes psyche404error, an online experimental fantasy that brings a ‘digital queer perversion of the myth’ of Psyche. As a mythology nerd, I was emphatically excited about this piece, and pondering what could happen if the gods of old took part in this age of technological advancements.

Psyche404error focuses on prolific internet darling Psyche, who has caught the unfavourable attention of the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite whose cult of followers insist that she is determined to surpass the goddess with her beauty. As a result, Psyche has deleted all her social media accounts and has vanished, disappearing without a trace and left the world wondering where is Psyche? Faced with a seemingly never-ending and monotonous existence of her own creation, Psyche is seemingly alone, until she is invited to install the app EROS.

What follows is an intertwined story of myth and creative originality, aided with some stunning yet intense visual work and some of the most poignant lines of script that I have heard in quite some time. The focused use of social media and technology was a great inclusion into the piece, and a wonderful first steppingstone into this world that Tanjutco has created so wonderfully.

Those familiar with the myth will recognise elements of the story that stay true to its origins. Aphrodite’s jealousy of Psyche, Psyche disappearing, meeting Eros even though she couldn’t see him and the consuming desire to know them, perhaps love them despite what stands in their way.

Tanjutco has created a wonderful script, with some truly superb lines that are exceedingly accurate, such as the idea that the internet being ‘a place as desolate as it is divine’, and equating her disappearing to being ‘less like a day off and more life falling into a bottomless void’. Most of the script is delivered in spectacular fashion, though there are a few almost insignificant moments where it falls short, but what follows certainly makes up for it.

While I truly enjoyed the performance overall, there were a few little things I noticed that seemed a little jarring, pulling me out of the space just a little. I’m unsure if there were some issues with the audio, perhaps lagging a little – though I do apologise if that was intentional. There is some imagery that some audience members could find a little disturbing and gory, and perhaps it was simply me being a little slow putting it together (or being unable to) but I wasn’t able to piece together the relevance to the story.

I truly enjoyed the conversation between Psyche and Eros, though we can’t ever see the latter. The use of a sort of split screen use of pairing the spoken word and the text counterpart of the conversation is a great touch, and had me truly invested in the pair’s conversations. I could easily imagine countless hours spent just talking about all matters of the greater universe in such a way and has a part of me wishing that such an app did exist.

Psyche404error is a delicious and tempting piece that weaves old world mythology into something completely its own, something dark and beautiful and tragic in many ways. It has audience members asking themselves, what would you do...? if you were in Psyche’s position.

A self-described ‘love letter to many things, including staying up all night, waking up at noon, art, idleness, romance, horror and hot loners’, Psyche404error is one not to be missed.

Image Supplied


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