It’s 1am. You are curled up in bed watching Netflix.
You should have been asleep hours ago. What began as ‘just one episode’ has now become a three-hour binge. The episode ends. A message appears on the screen, ‘Are you still watching?’. Netflix is concerned for your welfare. You go to click on the next episode when your laptop dies. You see your reflection in the black screen. Your tired eyes and greasy hair look alien. You try to forget that you have to get up in just under five hours.
You are a slug.
The outside world is your salt.
The Netflix binge is common comedic fodder, but it speaks to something deeper. A desire to escape. To not be responsible for anything but the screen in front of you. Two Twenty Somethings Decide Never to Be Stressed About Anything Ever Again. Ever is a satire that captures the nagging anxieties of being young in 2020.
In short, it follows the journey of a young couple who make a deal stating they will never be stressed again. Whoever cracks first loses.
There is something infinitely hilarious and tragic about stress.
The way it bubbles and brews; the way our brains over complicate and replay tiny interactions and situations on loop. Our common struggles are both what brings us together and makes us feel alienated from the world. The show is ultimately a domestic and relatable comedy that holds a mirror to the fears that rule our daily lives.
However, there is one aspect of the production that has been a continual source of exploration, the way we use technology to switch off and try to outrun our worries.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.
It is a feeling of calmness that comes from white noise; whispered voices and certain textured sounds.
The current leading Korean ASMR artist on Youtube, PPOMO, has just over two million subscribers. On her channel you can watch such videos as; “Crispy Fried Chicken Eating” and “Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon Doctor Sounds”.
For most, the prospect of having someone whisper the steps of intricate heart surgery is both unsettling and not at all relaxing. In fact, many ASMR videos have the opposite of their intended purpose. And yet, millions flock to these channels on a daily basis.
In our rehearsal room we have had many discussions about how this world can be captured on stage. The internet and theatre often exist at odds with each other. It can quickly devolve into cliche and pull the audience out of immersion. If theatre is all about the thrill of live human interaction, how does something as distant and cold as ASMR fit into this framework?
We have discovered that leaning into the absurdity of the online and embracing the awkwardness of self made content is crucial to success. The internet is not nuanced. The internet is not tactful or well thought out. It is the beauty of this contrast to the intimacy and form of structured dialogue that makes it engaging.
So what does it mean when even our online escapes no longer work?
In 2020, even the power of Netflix seems to be losing its potency. It seems that stress has become a sad inevitability of growing up. What is truly interesting, however, is how we choose to stumble our way through it.
Two Twenty Somethings Decide Never To Be Stressed About Anything Ever Again. Ever plays the Kings Cross Theatre March 25-April 4