4 out of 5 stars
Blush, Charlotte Josephine, Underbelly
© The Other Richard

Urgent new play about revenge pron

The vertiginous highs and nauseating lows of social media and revenge porn culture are pithily assessed in this rollercoaster of a show from Charlotte Josephine, who made a splash at the Fringe a few years in her own monologue ‘Bitch Boxer’.

‘Blush’ is a step up in every way, the most literal being that it’s a two-hander, with Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith alternating a series of male and female characters: the traumatised sister of a revenge porn victim; a woman ‘ghosted’ (dumped by ignoring) by her ex; a lonely girl who finds validation in sharing pictures of herself online; the doting dad addicted to sexcams; the new tech hotshot who finds himself at the centre of a Twitterstorm after he cracks on to a student at a conference he’s lecturing at.

Edward Stambollouian’s production zips along at a thrillerish pace: it rages and despairs and snarls, but never stops to pontificate. But it does convey two things fairly clearly. One, the instant gratification of the internet can be drug-like in its addictiveness, causing fundamentally decent people to do stupid impulsive things when angry, drunk or lonely… because there’s nothing to stop them. And two, women get it far, far worse than men, because so much of what is wrong with the internet is rooted in male desire for control of the female image; the fact that women generally have little interest in seeing naked pictures of strange men has huge ramifications.

One of the more telling things about ‘Blush’ is that we never see a computer – indeed, James Turner’s striking set is an old-fashioned photo studio. It’s not about the online realm of trolls and victims, but about the fallible, damaged, vulnerable humans behind it.

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