A show requesting you to leave your mobile phones on may seem like your idea of hell, but it works at the Lowry, says Kristy Stott.
21 Jun 2014
I Wish I Was Lonely is the first play that I have ever been to see where you are encouraged to leave your phone on.
And for the most part it isn't a play, well, it certainly doesn't feel like a play - more of a participatory theatrical workshop which focuses on the way that we communicate with each other and the way that we subscribe to and use social media. Poet Hannah Jane Walker and theatre maker Chris Thorpe use a combination of poetry, workshop and theatre during this interactive and conversational show about contactability.
As I walked into the performance space I had a look around at the rest of the audience, as they each scribbled their number on to a piece of card and made sure that their phone was switched on to full volume, most had willing but slightly perturbed expressions.
Nobody looked as though they really knew what to expect and I think most people were probably hoping that their phone would not ring out in the middle of the performance.
The whole performance feels natural and unique - there is some beautiful and striking imagery in the poetry that both actors deliver; there is also a strong sense of spontaneity, the possibility of any phone ringing at any time and it is those phone calls and texts that trigger the additional material, giving the show additional depth and truth.
I Wish I Was Lonely is a well developed and perceptive piece of theatre which encourages us to step back from our lives, question our own availability, the information that we choose to share and the way in which we deliver it.
By the close of the show, most of the audience had lost the faces of anxiety that they entered the room with and most were happy to interact with each other face to face - leaving a sense that sometimes it is better to leave your phone in your pocket and connect fully with the real world around you.