Blush, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 makes sharing explicit images without consent of the person or persons in the images illegal. Though this legislation is progress in fighting revenge porn and posting sexual photos and images online by criminalising it, the problem hasn’t gone away. Charlotte Josephine’s BLUSH tells the stories of five unrelated individuals effected by revenge porn, trolling and the proliferation of easily accessible online pornography. Some of the stories more tenuously link to the theme, but the montage format and frantic, physical interludes provide a wider view of the problem and how people, usually young women, can have their lives ruined by the click of mouse.

Daniel Foxsmith plays a suburban dad with a penchant for teen porn, and a successful app developer invited to speak to young entrepreneurs in New York who makes some bad decisions on a night out. These characters have similar demeanours; Foxsmith could differentiate them further on order make them more distinct. Though they both get themselves into difficult situations, Josephine plays three different women more directly effected by explicit images online. Though two of these characters have anticipated narratives, the third, a ghosted woman with a strong Estuary accent, is a surprise but a great alternative perspective on the issue. All five characters have elements of stereotype, but their responses to their own conflicts reads as genuinely personal through the text and the actors’ interpretations.

Not just interweaving monologues, director Ed Stambollouian incorporates physical sequences that become more frequent and increasingly violent, bleeding into the text. As online and real life blur, emotions intensify, and a photo studio set reminds us that everything we do is on show and ripe for consumption by an anonymous audience of thousands. Josephine has created a good set of characters, though stronger links to the topic would demonstrate the universal risk surrounding revenge porn.

Even though the script is has merit, the use of physical theatre in relation to the issue and the characters’ experiences makes this a much stronger, more evocative production. Without a doubt, this is still an important issue that deserves stage time.

BLUSH runs through 28th August.

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