Reading Review- “Reality – The Final” by Michelle Ferreira

Reality – The Final – A Review by Angelina Llongueras
The world – the set of characters – that inhabit Reality – The Final is no longer made up of
‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’, but rather a world of ‘plastic, drugs, and a TV show’.
The piece presents very simple, but exquisitely embroidered resources employed with precise pacing: the screen that provides a very appropriate beginning for the play; the short pieces of live music, the periodic and very focused lighting that isolates particular moments for a character; the glittering, and ugly, dresses and shoes; the pens that pose as joints or cocaine inhalers; the cheap artificial wigs and other props… through these we become immersed in an immense dollar store world where the interaction of characters involved in show business with their relatives, employees, bosses and friends is the perfect imitation of a massive reality show. If ‘Reality’ TV tries to imitate the cheapest, most stereotypical caricature of life in this sort of show, in this play life itself has been reduced to the dimensions of a very cheap TV show.
The play begins and ends on- screen, and the characters know their life is the worst kind of soap opera script: their feelings, their motivations, their impulses, their understanding of life are as cheap and superficial as the worst of TV shows, and they don’t complain about it, but follow the script as they are ordered to do. Susannah Finzi also uses occasional ‘Brechtian’ resources of letting their characters tell the audience that their story is nothing but a script… She can allow herself to do so, although she does not need to, because simply by the language registers she uses in the play, we never forget it for an instant.
And it is not that tragedy has disappeared from the life of these characters – like it would in a publicity spot, for instance – rather it has become a job provider – as well as a status and meaning provider – for the characters who ‘play’ their terminal illnesses, their drug addiction, their frustrations and their aggressive instincts openly for the benefit of our entertainment as an audience. Tragedy can be rooted in money, or a desire to move up in society or profession. Tragedy is, after all, the raw material of the global entertainment
The intensity, sensitivity and depth that every actor in this play has shown in tonight’s presentation has been the main contributor of our acceptance to ‘play the game’ with them. The brilliant work of the cast, together with the nuanced structure of the elements of the play have made possible our involvement and fascination for this set of unbearably self-absorbed characters we both pity and abhor.
The play has showed us their vulnerability and the poor quality of their cheapened life, and has created a mirror (or was it in fact Maiakovski’s famous hammer?) that points mercilessly to the fragile, cheap, plastic, shallow world which we all become increasingly more a part of with every new day when we check our tweets, read some ‘affirmative’ slogans on one of our multiple apps, and become slowly programmed to forget that there is a world beyond our screens. A real world in fact.
By Angelina Llongueras