Walking the streets you can see the process with which too many people operate themselves. Conversations with people sometimes seems utterly impossible. My tongue is incredibly mixed with so many different accents, to the point where my own mother tongue can’t be deciphered by others who were raised on the same mix of verbs. Sometimes I think maybe I mumble, but more and more I see that I simply have my own accent; and the fact that speaking is how I generally communicate. I had a conversation recently where it seemed to make sense. Or maybe not. I saw a play last night here in London’s National Theatre, called Wonder.land, a slight re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland. It was hard to tell during the course of the show if technology was being condemned or put up higher on its worldwide pedestal. The play, you see, imagines if Wonderland was an online fantasy (in the way of Facebook, or any of those other sites where you have an avatar, are allowing you to be very different from your actual self whilst online). Does it ruin lives? Does it destroy the very thing humans have spent millennia developing? Does it offer comfort to outsiders–giving them a place to feel like themselves with like minded folks who feel disenfranchised with the living? Is virtual reality really ‘the next step’? These are not questions the show asks. They are simply ones that I have asked in the ensuing twenty four, or so, hours since I saw it.
Me, as anyone who knows me, can attest am very against what this twilight zone of alternate life offers people. To me it seems that more often than not it caters to lonely people who have spent too time alone, and so are unable to relate to anyone. Despite what some people now may think, there have been people like this throughout the course of human existence. Alot of them overcame this anguish and others didn’t, of course. The thing the play really made me think of is that, as they say, misery loves company, and it seems misery has quite a cachet of friends in these places. But I digress–the play offers this angle in a cute way but also offers the flip side, as it shows a place for true misfits to find each other and relate to one another, to feel something they can’t feel when faced with others. The harmony with this island of misfits was generally played as comical, and what I think is the good side of the social network experiment is all about; and I do mean that as a compliment.
At the intermission I had thoughts that the avatars on the stage would turn out to be some of ‘real’ people in the show. Alas, it went with my fears that this place is where you can find ‘you’, and that finding this out in the real world isn’t possible. Please don’t misunderstand what I say, I enjoyed the play immensely as a stand alone thing to watch and be entertained by. It did, however, provoke these thoughts and brought these discussions to hand, afterwards. At times I feel like the last dinosaur wandering the earth after the apple shaped meteor has crashed into the Yucatan. I’ve always understood the appeal of these things but will never understand how people lose themselves in it, to the point where that reality becomes more important than basic human contact and interaction.
I can feel myself starting to go on a rant about how much the world has fallen into this hole, and how too many people seem too pre-occupied with a ridiculous fruit game to give a damn about it—so I think I’ll stop and take a bit of a breather. In short, the play truly is fantastic. A feast for the eyes as they say. And if you don’t immediately pick up your phone afterwards to see any texts or alerts you may have missed when you watched it, you could, possibly, maybe find yourself having a conversation about some of the pro and anti technology themes that float around the sets. I personally hope its what you do.
You can find out more at their website; wonder.land. (It’s still showing until April 30th.)