Home » London Theatre Reviews » Insult to Injury at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre | Review

Insult to Injury at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre | Review

Elon Musk? Never heard of him,” says the show’s programme – despite this production being about a social media platform that gets taken over by a billionaire, Vos (Nick Hardie) and starts ramming through all sorts of changes but not listening to the technology experts already in the company, and then firing those who disagree with him, or indeed those he just doesn’t like, or both. It’s reasonable to assume, for the purposes of the play, employment legislation is neither here nor there, with Vos having more than enough in the bank to pay whatever penalties for things like constructive dismissal claims.

Insult to Injury. Photographer Ross Kernahan.
Insult to Injury. Photographer Ross Kernahan.

The new ‘Head of Site Integrity’, Kat (Grace Millie) works alongside the ‘Head of Trust and Safety’, Ellis (Kieran Dee), or as Ellis would have it, Kat works ‘for’ him. Kat’s previous experience in technology proves to be insightful, but her suggestions are not only ignored but outrightly rejected by Ellis, though she doesn’t rub it in when circumstances work out more or less as she said they would. She tries to play the long game, but eventually, Vos forces her hand, and won’t stop at anything to get what he wants. This isn’t a case of violence or physical abuse, but rather one of threats to use ‘deepfakes’ (the word has its own Wikipedia page should you need it) against Kat.

What the likes of Kat and Ellis do is, amongst other things, look at text and images posted to the social media platform that may be in breach of the site’s regulations – fake news, nudity, incitements to violence, and so on. They play a part in formulating and carrying out policies that ultimately keep the platform’s users using the site, rather than going elsewhere because they find it too aggressive or unpleasant. It’s a remarkably insightful play for a multi-scene, one-act show, and without feeling as though it is cramming too much in too quickly.

Like almost any profit-making enterprise, there’s a need to think about the bottom line, though Vos’ strategies are largely if not entirely devoid of any moral or ethical compass. A high profile public figure quotes the so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech made by Enoch Powell in 1968, and however the platform responds is going to lead to some sort of backlash, partly because whatever artificial intelligence is at work failed to pick it up and delete it automatically. The play tackles a number of pertinent contemporary issues, leaving the audience with plenty of food for thought in a perceptive and lively production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A social media behemoth. 2 content moderators. Their new billionaire boss.

A satirical comedy about misinformation, technology, responsibility, power, and eating other people’s sins.

Moon Loaf are Associate Artists of the Lion & Unicorn Theatre.

CONTENT ADVISORY: Very strong language, online abuse.

Insult to Injury
The Lion & Unicorn Theatre
Insult to Injury
The Lion & Unicorn Theatre
A social media behemoth. 2 content moderators. Their new billionaire boss.

WRITTEN BY: Kieran Dee & Grace Millie
https://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com/

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