After Evan is arrested for online anti-Catholic abuse and as he awaits trial, both he and his parents try to come to terms with their situation and struggle to explain how they reached this point.
Optimist: Set in one small room with chairs surrounding the actors, there’s a deliberate and claustrophobic intimacy to the play. The uncomfortable proximity makes the central performance all the more powerful; you can clearly feel Evan’s latent anger and bitterness at the situation.
Cynic: I’ll give you that it’s well produced but I have a question. Evan’s “sectarianism” is borne of ignorance, not hatred, that’s made quite clear. But in that case what is the play’s purpose? What’s its message? A misguided sectarian slur drives the drama, but the play doesn’t seem to be saying anything about sectarianism itself…
Optimist: Perhaps that sectarianism is so ingrained in our society that it trickles down to even those who’ve never been directly exposed to it?
Cynic: Again, that drives the play but doesn’t feel like its main purpose. At times it seemed to me like the play’s central message was an indictment of the internet and technology. The title is a partial reference to ‘keyboard warrior’, it’s only when Evan’s online world is threatened that he reacts rashly, and if he weren’t so obsessed with the internet and violent video games none of this would have happened. It just felt judgemental to me: “Kids these days with their online abuse…”
Optimist: I’ll admit that I have wondered the same thing but I’m far from certain that’s really the case. During the big, climactic moment of the show – Evan’s monologue – the writing seemed to display a deep first-hand appreciation for video games. This makes me think the play was more of an indictment against the ineffective, catch-all laws against sectarian language, which punishes those who aren’t truly any danger and does nothing to address the real problem.
Cynic: That does seem a more logical stance for the play to take…
Optimist: Either way, I know I enjoyed it. It’s difficult to choose a stand-out performance as all three actors portrayed entirely different reactions very effectively. There’s the father’s confusion and disappointment as his career is trashed, the mother’s understated sadness and fear for her son. Most of all there’s Evan’s pain, bitterness and rage at both the situation he’s now in and the bullying that pushed him to it. The last-line of the play’s big climax was delivered which such anger and ferocity that I can still recall it perfectly now. All things considered this was a play which managed a great deal with very, very little. I was certainly glad to have seen it.
Cynic: All things considered, I’d say I was too.
Stephen: As you can see from the review, I’ve certainly struggled a bit with figuring out exactly what the play is trying to tell us. I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the play or a failing of my own. However, when it comes down to it- any play I’ve spent this long thinking about was certainly worth my time. If it interests you at all then don’t hesitate to see it.