Review: User Not Found

User Not Found is a play about what happens to your digital identity after you die. It is staged at the Jeelie Piece cafe and community art space at Tollcross. Audience members sit in the cafe and are given headphones and smartphones.

It transpires that the actor (Terry O’Donovan) is sitting in the corner of the cafe — right next to me and Alex, so it happens. The character laments the fact that his fellow patrons are immersed in their smartphones. The play has begun.

There are aspects of this play I really admired. There can’t be many more challenging environments for a theatre actor than a packed cafe. The script (written by Chris Goode) also requires him to interact with audience members, not all of whom seemed to appreciate it.

It was a highly immersive environment. The character brushes past you as he wanders around the cramped cafe. He sips his peppermint tea as you drink your rooibos. His speaking is transmitted directly to your ears through your headphones, along with other sounds and music. Parts of his story are told through his smartphone, mirrored to yours.

It’s definitely a special idea, and I felt myself beaming at the adventurousness of it. Despite this, as the play went on I found myself drifting away from the story, and becoming distracted by the hot and stuffy room. And while the use of smartphones to augment the play had great potential, I left wondering if that potential had been fully realised.

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