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Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels | Review

The storyline sticks to the point in Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels, a two-hander in which A (Athena Stevens) and 1 (Evelyn Lockley) take about three hours and fifteen minutes, in twenty-eight chunks or ‘episodes’, twenty-seven of which are less than ten minutes long, to discuss their friendships and relationships with one man. It is, in some ways, a lengthy ordeal and – the narrative being what it is, if one enjoys the production, perhaps one has missed the point of it.

Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels

I have no idea if the show is in any way autobiographical, but it is highly believable, if a tad repetitive. It is designed to be viewed in bitesize chunks, rather than being binge-watched (as I saw it) and seeing it all in one go (I gave myself an interval after episode fourteen), the similarities between various scenes are arguably more noticeable than they would have been if I’d taken four weeks to see it.

It was only in the final episode that I saw someone sat on a chair – there were, with each passing episode, ever more creative (or, depending on one’s viewpoint, ridiculous) sitting and lying positions. At one point A was talking to the camera through bannisters, lying down on a staircase, though this didn’t seem to bear any correlation to the level of openness she was displaying compared to other episodes.

The Man, as I may as well call him, as he is never referred to by name, clearly has the gift of the gab: despite having a short temper, to which both A and 1 attest. He is best friend (not so) forever to A, and girlfriend to 1, and because they keep meeting one another, at some point they exchange contact details, which allows them to speak to each other directly without The Man’s alluring presence.

1 initially has self-esteem issues, and looking from the outside in, it appears The Man is influencing this in a negative way, though it is some time before an open and shut case of inappropriate behaviour becomes evident, and even then, excuses are made for The Man – not by 1, who is (un)ceremoniously dumped by him, but by A, who insists he has not committed a grave injustice but merely made a mistake.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the running time, the audience gets to know the characters well over the course of the series, and the harrowing nature of psychological abuse provides much room for thought. There are no easy solutions to the problems that come to the fore: it’s all very well thinking, for instance, that 1 should just walk away – plenty more fish in the sea and all that – but for various reasons, it’s not as straightforward, especially when lines of communication are still open and strong feelings are being felt on both sides.

There are some good plot twists along the journey that help to maintain interest. It’s rather different from the displays of strength and independence that go with some stories about women who have survived unpalatable experiences with men, but there is something very human about the vulnerabilities and fears on display. “We do not choose we love, but we do choose who we let into our lives,” A muses. Peppered with moments of comic relief, this intriguing production shows how relationships can be immensely painful even with a complete absence of physical violence.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

A young woman sends a topless selfie to her boyfriend as a bit of flirtatious fun. When he shows it to his best friend for a laugh, he can’t imagine her having any other reaction. But what starts out as a joke soon turns into an accusation of something much darker. At what point does admiration become a form of control? How do we say ‘stop’ when it becomes apparent that we are complicit in hurting other women? If someone you know to be a good person, starts to prove themselves otherwise, how do you walk away?

Sarah Lawrie for Aegis Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre present:
Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels
A series of asides streamed daily on YouTube
Written by Athena Stevens | Directed by Lily McLeish
Hosted on the Finborough Theatre YouTube Channel as part of #FinboroughForFree
1 February – 1 April 2021

@LateNightStare | #FinboroughForFree | www.aegisproductions.co.uk


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