Teh Internet Is Serious Business

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© Johan Persson

Yuyu Rau (Anonymous), Natalie Dew (Anxiety Cat), Sargon Yelda (Anonymous), Amir Giles (Anonymous), Ferdinand Kingsley (Anonymous), Kae Alexander (Kayla), Sarah Goulding (Anonymous), Nathaniel Martello-White (Anonymous), Faith Prendergast (Anonymous), Lanre Malaolu (Anonymous)

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© Johan Persson

Sarah Goulding (Grumpy Cat)

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Kerr Logan (pwnsauce), Ferdinand Kingsley (Tuxedo), Sargon Yelda (Anon), Eileen Walsh (Narcotroll), Kevin Guthrie (Jake)

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Hamza Jeetooa (Mustafa)

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Hamza Jeetooa (Mustafa), Nathaniel Martello-White (Sabu), Natalie Dew (AV Unit), Kae Alexander (Kayla), Kerr Logan

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Amir Giles (Socially Awkward Penguin), Kerr Logan (Pedobear), Kevin Guthrie (Jake), Sarah Goulding (Grumpy Cat)

'Get off this board you fucking cancerfag cunt!' Tim Price’s debut play for the Royal Court is a foul-mouthed,  jargon-heavy modern history lesson that paints the saga of the Anonymous hacking collective in Day-Glo brush strokes that some viewers will definitely find offensive.

Where the last Royal Court show ‘The Nether’ tried to make the web noir-ishly cool, ‘Teh Internet Is Serious Business’ resembles an anarchic Saturday morning kids’ TV show, complete with a massive ball pool and characters dressed in funny animal costumes.

Loosely speaking, Hamish Pirie’s production takes the form of a series of giddily anthropomorphised webchats, in which the actual ‘human’ members of Anonymous rub shoulders with walking memes, including Socially Awkward Penguin, Grumpy Cat, Bad Advice Dog  and Pedobear (a paedophile bear).

We follow agoraphobic Shetlander Jake (Kevin Guthrie) and stuttering Southwark schoolboy Mustafa (Hamza Jeetooa) as they escape their difficult lives to join the freewheeling world of Anonymous, a piss-taking, posturing collective of hackers who take down the website www.scientology.org after its lawyers try to remove a video of Tom Cruise from the internet. Paranoia divides Anonymous, but a breakout group of six – including Jake and Mustafa – form as LulzSec and wreak merry semi-moralistic havoc with everyone from Visa to the CIA.

It’s all so loose and messy that you may need to read up on it after. But ‘Teh Internet…’ is genuinely informative about who Anonymous are and what they’ve done. It’s the sort of issue the Royal Court should be covering. And I can’t overstate how joyously fun it all is, with a great comic cast and an infectious sense of hope.

On the downside, there’s no great depth to the show or its characters, though perhaps that’s not a huge sacrifice for fizzing entertainment. More problematic is the lack of concern shown towards the central characters’ misogyny. The vilest insults are dispatched with an absence of conviction that almost exonerates those saying them. And though the decision to have two members of LulzSec played by women has merits, it also romanticises what is a homogeneous, male organisation.

Nonetheless, these are the criticisms that Anonymous and the currently newsworthy 4chan take great glee in mocking. Ultimately, ‘Teh Internet Is Serious Business’ is serious lulz. And on those grounds, it’s a win.

Interview: author Tim Price and fugitive hacker AVUnit

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