Frankly, in the weeks of actual theatres reopening in many cities around the globe and after months of Zoom fatigue, no one is waiting for a left mouse click-operated online play entirely presented as a slide show. But the various bank holidays in continental Europe allow me to fit Pony Cam’s A Red Square into my coffee breaks. I will not regret taking this journey.
Reading the PDF prologue to “three acts within a Drive folder” before the index finger animation begins, might take you back to the times when Paint was a standard program on Windows 95. South Park appears like an Avatar-enhanced Ghibli film in comparison. To get the story moving, your index finger will have to run a marathon: The first part alone is 1399 slides strong.
A pair of minimalistic squares found a family after visiting a Christian orphanage for baby squares. They then go on an exotic holiday when a fatal incident tears them apart again (expect blood all the way through the next 60 minutes and plenty of rubber ducks). Trying to make sense of life after these disastrous events, the survivor turns to unhelpful coping mechanisms, has bad trips, outbursts of violence, thoughts of revenge and an increased interest with a certain Hollywood star. End of Act 1.
Google Drive warns me that the next two acts are too big to scan, but finally I can open them anyway: Within the slide microcosm, a black hole appears on an Apple desktop. Suspiciously, only Microsoft PowerPoint and Chrome are installed; is this the cyberpunk of our decade? The protagonist indeed reviews the events of what happened to the square tribe so far, then turns to research the local art and theatre scene and own family history via Streetview, YouTube and endless stock pictures. All purposefully not flashy, pardon the pun. Expect more Liam Neeson, tears shed about his tragic life as narrated on Wikipedia, scenes from his most famous films and almost everyone’s timeless dream of making it as an actor. With money earned in blue movies (published on RedTube, as you asked) our red square can afford to join campus life with plenty of happy headshots friends. Always one twist ahead, we get insights of the struggles of actors with back-shooting I-was-young-and-needed-the-money backgrounds, and at Melbourne’s theatre festival a reminder of why we were asked to upload our very own picture before receiving access to this whimsical, digital flipbook.
Who would not wish to be picked up from London’s Camden People’s Theatre in a white stretch limousine? With a written offer to join the cast of Hamilton waiting for you? This is what A Red Square is: An actor’s life story from the humble beginnings to the glamourous, parallel Shutterstock universe, all to the soundtrack of the clicking of an index-finger on a PC mouse. A Red Square can easily be interpreted as an antithesis of online theatre rather than being seen as a love letter to the Microsoft Office Suite. I feel like drawing a flipbook during tomorrow’s screen breaks. And might read Mr Neeson’s entire Wiki entry when having to sit through yet another pointless Power Point at work. It’d be a strange time for the Melbourne-based Pony Cam collective to republish A Red Square online (which actually ran at the CPT in 2019) if it was not Sprint Digital Festival season which the CPT has hosted since 1997. Fringe stage cyberpunk.
Written and created by the Pony Cam collective
*** out of 5 stars
£10 per online ticket in the stalls, available until 8 June