Robert Boulton's play Snowflakes takes cancel culture to the extreme. A start-up business metes out 'justice' for offences and offending on social media. Live streamed, the 'defendant' is given a chance to put their case and the audience votes on whether they can walk or are killed on camera.
The 'hitman/hitwoman' decide on the style of death. Yes, it is dark.
Waking up in a hotel room having spent the night with a woman that isn't his wife, Tony (Henry Davis) is ambushed and drugged by Marcus (played by Boulton) and Sarah (Louise Hoare).
The former is an old hand at this 'work' and relishes it. Sarah is on her first job and wants to do everything by the book, but that seems to include riling Marcus by accusing him of disliking women which had me jumping ahead of the story.
Setting up the equipment while discussing the job, their route into it and the pros and cons turns into rather a long preamble to the actual 'trial'. It stretches the tension of the first half a little too thin.
But when Tony is conscious, and events truly kick off, it is not the most relaxing watch having events unfold in such close proximity (this is in the Park's studio theatre).
Having an unseen digital audience voting on the 'defendant's' fate is an interesting idea. Keyboard trolling is taken to the extreme; it highlights the ease with which people can separate themselves from the real impact of their actions if viewed via a screen.
And our two assassins carry out the audience's will; it's a job like a judge handing down the results of a jury trial.
But I have questions. Is this a play about the easily offended, as the title suggests or cancel culture or meting out justice to those who seem to have got away with misdemeanours?
Tony has written a book called Snowflakes but also had a relationship with a woman with the suggestion of sexual assault.
Two very different things, but is the point that it doesn't matter when the mob's blood is up?
And the practical side of my brain couldn't always suspend disbelief. If this is all happening in a hotel room (that conveniently has a CCTV camera linked to HQ), why is no one disturbed by the noise?
What about the filming - surely torturing and murdering people and live streaming it won't go unnoticed?
The world outside the room remains a little too mysterious.
I think Snowflakes touches on interesting topics, but I found myself more frequently struggling with the construct rather than the 'debate' it seems intended to provoke. I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Snowflakes, Park Theatre
Written by Robert Boulton
Directed by Michael Cottrell
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes, including an interval.
Booking until 6 May for more information and tickets, visit the Park Theatre website
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