29 August 2017

Lolly Jones - Orwell That Ends Well (Edinburgh Fringe)

So I took a trip to the Just The Tonic Caves in Edinburgh to see a show about Big Brother (thankfully not THAT Big Brother) and how the internet has taken over our lives. There's a chance that some people might have thought they were going to see an Austen adaption with a modern twist, thanks to a clever play on words by Lolly Jones, who's developed a show about the Snoopers' Charter (which became the Investigatory Powers Act 2016). As you do. Based on George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.

The Charter was proposed by, you guessed it, our lovely PM Theresa May (when she was Home Secretary), and requires Internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile phone providers to keep records of your internet browsing activity (including social media, text messages, emails, voicemails) for twelve months. Nick Clegg blocked it, but when TM became PM she was determined to get the Bill made into law, at an estimated cost of £1.8 billion. The idea is to prevent crime, including terrorism and child sex offences, but at what cost to our privacy?

The opening quote 
Serious bit over. Over the next hour Lolly took us on a fast-paced, eye-opening and hilarious  Powerpoint journey documenting her appearance on the TV show Hunted (she had to try and evade capture by police and former intelligence professionals to try and win £100,000), popular memes, TV presenter Toby Anstis and his amusing connection to the World Wide Web, and her time working in the Houses of Parliament (amongst a million other things). I was relieved to find someone around the same age as me who is attracted to Jeremy Corbyn, and probably an even bigger Corbynista than I am (she mentioned eating falafel off him). Unfortunately I don't share her affection for Paul Hollywood.

Lolly, if you made this you are a genius
We also got to create our Tory names (first name of a grandparent + the name of the first street you lived in hyphenated with your first headteacher's surname - mine's Gwendoline Orchard-Morris), and witness a famous annoying celebrity walking into a pole (my frustration at the internet and it's impact on my life started to lessen at the point). I was already worried about government spies being able to access my webcam and collect images of me in my PJs with no make-up at 4pm, but they're probably accessing microphones too. The main protagonist of 1984, Winston Smith and his lover Julia are weaved in throughout the deluge of information, and I left wanting to read the book again (it's been a while). I was shocked but not surprised to learn about the proposed Social Credit system in China where citizens are marked on their use of online data (and possibly denied loans or travel for bad behaviour). Talk about 1984 becoming reality - a totalitarian state in the making.

Lolly in action 
Lolly asked the question to a packed room - could you live without the internet? Only two people said they could. She aptly rounded off the show by reading out some peoples' search histories, highlighting how we rely on Google for pretty much everything. It hit home to me that my lifestyle a self-employed writer) is dependent on the internet to exist, and I decided there and then to stop moaning about the amount of crap online. Yes, the government has legislated to snoop on us, and get records of our browsing history for twelve months, but we can still have fun with it. Maybe it's a case of not taking it too seriously. Lolly definitely doesn't.

Thought-provoking, eye-opening, fun comedy based on Lolly's crazy life against a backdrop of worrying government policy   ★  ★ 

To find out more about Lolly and future shows click here

To follow Lolly on Twitter click here 

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