Chris Goode's brave new play takes us into a world of internet chat room addictions, with raw honesty and frank language. Nothing is sensationalised or gratuitous; the central figure, John, talks to us directly; tells us about his fantasy lover who lives in the USA, and who is perhaps called Carlos, but can only be accessed through the computer screen and keyboard. John's world is a lonely, enclosed place, but he comes to see the implications of his addiction for real lives in other parts of the world. The play does not moralise, but the personal and the political inevitably interweave as the rift between intimacy and distance opens up.
Infinite Lives is engaging from start to finish, the main character feels true to life. We are drawn into the life where he is trapped; he has the insight to know what is happening to him but is unable to break free. There is much depth and emotional range, moving from nervy melancholia to genial wit. Goode's taut writing does not force gags, but springs them at unexpected moments with sharp one-liners that punctuate the plays emotional journey. The ending is visually effective but possibly a little too easy after the intelligently complex development of themes up to that point.
Ray Scammell's very believable performance as John holds our attention from the outset, drawing out empathy for a flawed but very human character as he reveals his emotional and digital entanglement. Nik Partridge's direction, Rosanna Vize's spare but effective set and Timothy X Atack's sound design serve the piece well, doing enough to convey John's private, technology driven world, without distracting from the increasingly relevant and current questions that the play poses. An excellent piece of new work that needs to be seen.
- Tony Clancy