TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal explore our digital lives in Hyperlink

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Hyperlink | The Elbow Theatre Society | Firehall Arts Centre | October 4 – 14, 2017

TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal explore the good, the bad, and the ugly phenomena of the internet in this show that is as varied as its subject. How do we connect with each other online? What are we looking to get out of our online interactions? Is spending too much time online reducing our attention spans and putting us in a constant state of distraction? Dawe and Erdal use personal stories and thoughtful analysis to delve into these topics.

They began by showing us a “can’t look away” YouTube video — you know the ones: a compilation of train-wreck style events that you know are terrible yet you keep watching. Now that they had our attention, Dawe moved on to tell us a childhood story. Much like our time spent online or on our phones, there was a great deal of switching back and forth from one narrative element to another. There were even a few “cute overload” interludes where Dawe and Erdal ran into the audience and sat in the aisles while videos of cute animals amused us.

There were plenty of opportunities for audience interaction. For example, we helped Erdal create a profile on “plentyokmatchharmony.com” and we played a game show called “Everything’s True on the Internet” in which Dawe and Erdal each shared an internet stat and we had to guess which one was true.

Of course, there was plenty of discussion about social media. I enjoyed the commentary on guilt-inducing quotes that people share on Facebook, annoying hashtags including #blessed or #livingthedream, and Dawe’s condemnation of “vague-booking” — that annoying thing people do when they post a vague status update such as “Can’t believe that just happened.”    

Other internet phenomena discussed included fraud its prevalence, ugly selfies, trolls, pregnancy countdowns, and Facebook love on your birthday. Dawe explained that he loves internet challenges such as the Ice Bucket Challege or the Harlem Shake. He used to like dancing, but hasn’t done any in a long time due to his distaste for nightclubs. He took this opportunity to let loose and danced along with a video while wearing a mask. He was able to dance as if no one was watching and seemed liberated and free.

Dawe and Erdal, under the direction of Rachel Peake, have created a highly entertaining, relatable show about our evolving digital lives. In the end, we all have an online persona that diverges in some way from what we are like in real life, and we don’t always share every aspect of our lives online. As they said, “In real life I don’t always try to seem happy.”        

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