Apparently, Google doesn’t just know I like to image search “cupcake” every now and again. The Googleplex knows my name! My age! Where I live! And, judging from some crafty chalk-on-pavement guerrilla advertising, the fact I cross St. Giles every morning. I was impressed by the publicity for this original St. John’s piece, but the lack of plot, clumsy dialogue and bizarre casting choices meant it didn’t quite manage to live up to its own hype.
Google knows where you live portrays the search engine as a present day Big Brother, and it’s pretty much all 1984 from thereon out. We opened with “Julia” riffling through various documents in an official manner, to the sweet revolutionary sound of Muse’s “Uprising”, and interrogating (invisible) “comrades”. I spent some time considering whether she was a schizophrenic, partly due to the “dialogue” and partly her odd costume- probably supposed invoke Moneypenny but in reality giving a more Confused Emo vibe. I was relieved from my pondering by a bit of audience interaction- fervid whisperings from a guy in the front row wearing a Russian bear hat and conferring the extent to which we were all controlled by the Googleplex. Eventually, “Julia” and “Guy” acknowledged that they were the only two actors in the play and began to discuss their reasons for hating “the machine”, which climaxed in Guy’s monologue calling for a revolution of new drsm codes and comparing life without Google to Fairtrade chocolate.
This was actually quite funny, but the subsequent debate over whether or not Google’s manipulation of reality was to blame for the fact we and Guy couldn’t see the “comrades” pushed the audience too far. Casting your invisible friends is rarely a sensible artistic choice, and unfortunately this was no exception.
When a BT theatre techie rushing shouting “Who are you? Get the hell off the stage!”, I couldn’t help but wonder how the actors had been allowed on there in the first place.