Seen at the Vaudeville.
Public Domain is a nice concept, soundly staged, but ultimately disappointing. There is some sharp, cynical writing here but it fails to develop. There is much repetition in the lyrics – I never again want to hear about a beautiful boat on the sea – I wish the writers Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke had been less true to the verbatim idea and more prepared to develop their source into more of a narrative. Repeated digs at Facebook and Zuckerberg did not give this drive. I’m not sure how the story of Millie and Z (Swaggy) turned out, or maybe I’d tuned out by the end. The twist to the “old” person’s experience of social media gave a light touch towards the end.
The staging with 4 large screens, constantly flowing with projected images, is fun. It accurately represented the onscreen experience although it did limit the performers’ ability to move around the stage to give us different images. The sound balance was slightly off for me – in the early scenes their voices were lost to the music.
Francesca Forristal gives a sparky performance and invests each of her characters with subtle differentiation so she can switch convincingly from one to the next in a word.
Jordan Paul Clarke bounces in with enthusiasm, effectively inhabiting his teenage YouTuber and eliciting sympathy in his battle with depression. Both performers have great voices which blend well together.
It’s a good show, with excellent performances and skilful technical presentation, but the writing lets it down. After 10 minutes I felt I’d seen the set-up, enjoyed the spectacle and was ready to invest in the next level. Sadly, they did not take us there.