Outgoing Schauspiel Dortmund intendant Kay Voges has long been fascinated by the digital realm in his multimedia productions. Yet sadly, his latest internet-inspired piece at the Volksbühne short-circuits. Named after Google’s founding and since abandoned slogan, Voges’ production is an incoherent assault against the ills of the internet. Framing his critique within Brecht’s 1932 speech on the revolutionary potential of broadcasting makes for a promising start. Never one for passive entertainment, Brecht anticipated the internet by envisaging a form of radio that could send and receive, thus turning listeners into active participants. The bitter reality of the web today looks somewhat different: dick pics and death threats, flame wars and fake news. Voges’ critique is certainly warranted. So where does he go wrong? A lightspeed overview of online culture wars – from alt-right subreddits to the Tumblr lefties – feels exaggeratedly complicated and embarrassingly unfunny. Then there’s the cringe-factor of Pepe the Frog wrestling a rainbow unicorn or The Matrix’s Trinity leading said Brecht naked on a leash. Subtlety certainly isn’t Voges’ strength. Stories of trigger-happy livestreamers and obnoxious influencers erratically intercut the over two-hour performance, which endlessly repeats its superficial internet analysis. The result is a tedious evening with dramaturgic buffering problems. Downvote.
Don’t be evil. | Directed by Kay Voges. Volksbühne, Mitte. Nov 22, Dec 1, with English surtitles.