A beautifully intimate cry for help, User Not Found poses the question of the role technology plays within legacy and intimacy and touches on the dangerous impact that social media and isolation can have on mental health.
As soon as the headphones go on Terry (Andy McLeod) draws the audience into a personal, compelling journey, in which we catch glimpses of his spiral out of control after the death of his ex-partner. Throughout the majority of the show McLeod talks to you through headphones, immersing us in the time-capsule of what feels like a voicemail, emphasising the change in perception that comes about over time.
After discovering the death of his ex-partner, McLeod takes us through his isolation and grief. Carefully put together, the show eloquently highlights the paradox of grief being such a personal experience that everyone experiences at some point, and that grief constantly poses an impossibly unsolvable problem.
Concerningly volatile, McLeod places himself amongst the audience and walks through the audience emphasising the human experience and the interaction between emotion and technology. By delivering the monologue through headphones, User Not Found plays on the ideas of technology being both a connecting and dividing force in everyday interaction and how it facilitates our projection of internal issues onto others.
The premise of the play asks whether Terry should delete his ex’s internet presence, this plagues him and drives him apart from those around him and pushes him into over analysis and obsessive examination of his actions.
As the narrative develops the show steps away from the more literal and explores Terry’s desire to escape. As the room sinks into a brooding blue, the show creates a stillness, capturing vulnerability and exposing the delicacy of grief.
In the end I am lost for words when it comes to User Not Found, it is passionate, quiet yet unavoidably personal. Gently caressed into comfort, the audience is left feeling guilty for not reaching out and yet at the same time not sure of where to start. This self-aware, playful exploration of grief and technology in human relationships will undoubtedly leave you with a lot of questions. 4/5
Review written by Charlie Froy
User Not Found is currently showing until Friday 18th October 2019 at Artisan Coffee (Bush Theatre). To find out more about the production, visit here…