Pixel Dust

A teenager's relationship with the internet shows technology can't be reduced to good or evil

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
31363_large
Pixel Dust
Published 14 Aug 2017

Daniella’s newly single mum has moved the two of them from London to the suburban north. A GCSE student and out lesbian, she’s used to the excitement and acceptance of city life. With her friends far away and bullying on her doorstep, she turns to the internet and social media to escape. Video games, YouTube, snapchat and multiple Facebook profiles are an opportunity for Daniella to explore who she wants to be.

An exploration of internet dependency and personal identity, Clare Bayley’s monologue shows how blanket labelling of the internet as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is reductive and inaccurate. Daniella is humiliated online, but finds a community of people who accept her. It permits her, in times of need, to reach out to friends who would otherwise be uncontactable. It also allows her to meet strangers in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s easy for adult actors playing teenagers to over-compensate for their actual age by pitching their characters too young, but Simone James skillfully avoids this trap. James convincingly captures the middle teen years where Daniella's not really a child anymore, but isn’t an adult, either. She's facing the pressures of GCSEs and is increasingly independent, but serious incidents show she’s out of her depth in the adult world.

The story has too many subplots and major events to be believable in such a short period of time, even though they're tenable in and of themselves. But James is a compelling performer and Bayley's character is a tribute to young people and the struggles they face growing up online.