Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

Review: F Off at Underbelly

Review: F Off at Underbelly

In this new production from the National Youth Theatre, the audience are the jury and Mark Zuckerberg is on trial. As the show began I approached it with caution. Would the audience participation get tired and would this become a preachy treatise on teen social media use? I needn’t have worried. The NYT have pulled off an incredible feat, effectively condensing Zuboff’s tome on Surveillance Capitalism into a highly entertaining hour-long show that will appeal to old and young alike. 

In creating the piece, writer Tatty Hennessy led a workshop with 30 digital natives talking about their experiences and concerns around social media. Consequently, the play touches on ‘incels’ deep fakes, the ‘compare and despair’ phenomenon, as well as political corruption. 

The cast make this data-heavy script come to life; a special mention is deserved by Amelia Braithwaite and Will Stewart,  who both radiate energy. A demonstration that shows how much information can be gleaned from a member of the audience’s Facebook account, and how this can lead to targeted political messaging, is particularly effective. As they point out, more people are on Facebook today than there are Christians. Any way to create an accessible means of exploring how digital monopolies use their data is a welcome addition to theatre. This play manages to be both funny and emotional and is exceptionally written to boot.

F Off is at Underbelly at 12. 50 pm until the 25th August (not 12th)