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Don't Forget to Smile


Charlotte Josephine's Blush

Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Edinburgh

directed by Ed Stambollouian

A circle of red carpet in the middle of the stage, lit up with large square lamps. On each side, a desk, one for the male performer, one for the female. It feels like a boxing ring or a red carpet: a place of exposure, competition and fame. But these things aren’t always glamorous. Sometimes they are heavy with shame. Written by Charlotte Josephine, the play that unfolds is a series of interlinked stories about our relationship with the Internet, with particular emphasis on revenge porn and consent, or lack thereof.

Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith give gorgeously detailed physical performances, switching between characters that each has a different role and viewpoint on the issue. The play is scrupulous in the way it treats each scenario as individual. No one person is exclusively victim or perpetrator. For example, the girl who posts pictures of her ex-boyfriend online is herself hurting, a victim of ghosting. Although this doesn’t excuse her actions and the play doesn’t excuse her either, it gives a full picture of the myriad reasons why someone might publicly shame someone else, and the emotional landscape behind it. By scrutinising the causes and effects, Josephine has created a rich portrait of the way we use images of others and ourselves on the Internet, exposing the impact that betrayal can have on families, relationships and our fragile sense of self.

This is a powerful, fast-paced play about misread signals, humiliation, blame, anger and frustration. It is a warning. In this modern era, one slip-up, one incident of trusting the wrong person can cause an awful lot more than just a blush.

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