REVIEW: The System, Original Theatre (Online)

Written and performed by Emily Head, The System is a compellingly dark watch that has been cleverly filmed.

(c)John Findlay

It really is pleasing to see that despite theatres reopening, digital theatre is still going strong and as this sleekly put together production show, continuing to push boundaries.

In this new piece of drama written by Emily Head, The System sees a several young women being interviewed by an unseen police officer in the wake of the murder of Paul during the course of his birthday party. As each suspect is interviewed, their backstories and relationship to the deceased unravel with dark secrets being revealed along the way.

Everything about this production has been expertly crafted to create a darkly atmospheric experience – from the intensity of Head’s writing to the way in which it was all captured in one seamless shot (which is never an easy thing to achieve) – it is impressively ambitious. Director Guy Unsworth has clearly put a lot of time and care into ensuring that each camera angle is used effectively, particularly with regards to allowing Head to change character without us knowing until we see her once again – these angles also allow the audience a brief break from the intensity of what is unfolding.

But it is also the way in which the camera almost seems to use the caged structure of the set to enhance the feeling of being trapped that these female suspects must feel, keeping the production as focused as possible that makes this a sophisticated experience.

In terms of the writing, Emily Head has created so many dynamic characters and backstories that have been put together well. While some of the speeches could use a little bit of editing here and there, the audience can’t help but be drawn into these character’s worlds and the horror that they have experienced – even if certain elements of their stories that emerged can be seen coming or at least suspected.

Equally, the way in which Head embodies all of these characters is extraordinary. Her ability to switch character through tiny details such as little mannerisms and nervous habits to more noticeable elements such as accents is really distinctive. The audience is never lost as to which character she is portraying, allowing them to really concentrate on the story that is emerging as well as become emotionally invested in these characters.

This is certainly one of the most sophisticated pieces of digital theatre that I have seen over the last year – highlighting just how far digital theatre has come. The System is a dark and thrilling play that is well worth a watch.

By Emma Clarendon

The System will be available to watch on demand from the 8th September until the 5th December.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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