Lockdown review: work_from_home

An experiment with Zoom from New Diorama Theatre and Incoming Theatre based on a show called work.txt by Nathan Ellis. This previous show, also utilising the audience as performers, ran at this year’s Vault Festival, but has been adapted for digital performance.

Exploring automation, technology, the economy, the political landscape, and remote human interaction, work_from_home runs with a script which is fed privately and randomly to audience members through a chat window.

Although it was publicised as a process where all audience members would participate, the automated nature of the show mixed uncredited professional performers together with the occasional interaction from the small audience (just over thirty in total from the evening I joined).

Performing this piece together with others, but at a digital distance, is an interesting experience and has its own challenges – freezing webcams, temperamental microphones.

As we as an audience only really see the parts of the script meant for everyone, we don’t know if anyone ad libs or refuses to join in which adds to a sense of surprise and frustration.

At fifty-eight minutes, Ellis’s text fuses music, meeting, fantasy, chit chat and a sense of confusion and repetition, and although it did not feel entirely successful it was another example of creative ingenuity in difficult times.

Performances continue until 3 July and can be booked at New Diorama Theatre’s website. Tickets are free but donations are appreciated by the venue.

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