A 1960’s-style telephone stands atop a simple table on an otherwise empty stage. It is the pinnacle and focus of Wired to the Moon Productions’s monologue by writer and producer Julia Lee Dean. As it rings we meet Mat (Mat Pinckney) who, coming in to reprimand such offensive noise, does not seem to like the phone. With the help of some illustrative walk-on parts, he launches into a lecture on how much we, as a society, have been consumed by the glamour of this communications device.
A one-man show can be a difficult thing to maintain over 40 minutes and director Kaitlin Argeaux has done well to break up the speech into manageable scenes, and makes full use of the space in width and height. At one point Mat leaps onto the table to directly address the audience in search of some answers. The wonderfully comic Nic White provides Mat with a number of other characters to interact with, including Death on his mobile, an all-too-familiar tele-salesman desperately trying to sell “sophisticated novelty” cufflinks and a shady heavy breather. Dean herself makes an appearance as a neurotic would-be lover to a wrong number who ultimately realises she’s been jilted. Mat finds himself at the mercy of these callers and debates his “hang up about hanging up”.
After a while, the piece seems to say less about telephones and more about Mat. He seems to be a recluse, trapped inside his house with a fear of allowing anyone to connect with him. At first, his casual and articulate manner endears the audience to him but, by the end, I felt an interesting distance as I watched a man work out what he needed to do to reconnect with the world. If this was intentional, Mat could have afforded to go even further with his idiosyncrasies. For example, he says that he can’t understand why “wrong numbers” always apologised because it wasn’t their intention to call the wrong person. Perhaps I’m alone on this issue, but I can see a real need to apologise to someone you have interrupted unnecessarily regardless of intention. Pinckney’s performance is a mixture of fluent delivery and wry looks. On the whole, his timing is good, though at times he seemed nervously hesitant as well as adopting a curiously amateur ‘jumping out of skin’ reaction every time the phone rang.
Observing a man with only a light grasp of social etiquette when battling with a communications device is an interesting premise ,but I think has more potential than realised here. Although nicely worded, the general themes and content in the text seem out of date and feel like a stand-up routine from the 1990s. There are good observations about how people use texting in favour of voice calls as it’s hard to think of a good response on the fly. Again, this starts to say something on the decline of social abilities and the world of new media technology, but it fails to really comment on either.
This is a nice little show with some funny anecdotes and amusing caricatures representing a variety of experiences we can all identify with when it comes to using the phone. However, in this modern age of pings and tweets, there is so much more to say. Wired to the Moon has a great starting point here and I hope they can develop it further.