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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

I Have No Enemies (Bare Witness Theatre Co.), at Theatre Works' Explosives Factory - 2 hours, including a 20-minute interval

Four actors … who break the fourth wall, track down a Melbourne man from a seven-minute rant obtained by a transcription service and give a potted history of the internet.

 

That, in a nutshell, is the subject matter of the cleverly orchestrated play that puts the fear of God into you.

 

In fact, humour and paranoia are comfortable bedfellows in I Have No Enemies.

Photos by Novel Photographic


The actors take to the stage wearing multi coloured streaks of “war paint”, which they explain after interval is actually anti-facial recognition face paint.

 

Why do they need it, you may well ask?

 

In short, to try to avoid being uncovered as they undertake their covert mission.

 

It all starts when Chris (Christopher Samuel Carroll), the leader of the pack, is intrigued by a job he takes as a subcontractor to a subcontractor at a cheap transcription service.

It involves a man named Phil who lives in Brunswick, drives a damaged silver Nissan and appears to be in and out of the County Court.

 

As Chris goes about his business, it becomes clear that Phil is isolated, antagonistic and distrustful.

 

He has an ex-wife and an estranged daughter.

 

Chris, of course, recognises that confidentiality is paramount.

 

Still, he wonders whether he and his bunch of fellow actors and tech specialists can find Phil and ingratiate themselves into his life.

 

And so our journey of discovery begins, one which takes a circuitous route, but uncovers the omnipotent power of the world wide web.

 

In this day and age, is it really possible to avoid scrutiny? Me thinks not.

One of Chris’ group, Brendan (Brendan Kelly), tries to delete all traces of his digital footprint and still … inevitably fails.

 

I particularly appreciated the company’s three-part deep dive into the origins of and milestones in the emergence of the internet as a supreme force.

 

As part of this offering, the quartet acts out iconic films drawn from the post internet era.

 

Think Sandra Bullock’s The Net (1995), Will Smith and Gene Hackman’s Enemy of the State (1998) and so on.

 

Data and access to it is the great commodity of the 21st century and hence data centres are the trump card.

 

Before this is over, the four keyboard warriors – who also include Rachel Pengilly and Lloyd Allison-Young – will have attempted a furtive operation to infiltrate one.

 

Running through all of this is the ongoing drawcard of an addictive digital game known as Tortoise Run, which tech whiz Rachel (Pengilly) is particularly adept at.

She is also the one who, with the help of the dark web, has created a handy voice-controlled, joke-telling digital assistant named Tessa, who will help them escape a tight spot.

 

I Have No Enemies requires concentration to follow because there is so much going on at a cracking pace.

 

Complete with evocative video, four fine actors have well realised wacky and disruptive little masterpiece, in which each has their time to shine.

 

With actor and director Christopher Samuel Carroll clearly in the driver’s seat, they bounce off each other effortlessly, tackling a series of challenges along the way.

 

The tech heavy set design with good, old fashioned filing cabinets and archive boxes is another prominent feature, alongside video and photographic imagery.

 

I Have No Enemies is somewhat of a visual, comedic and dramatic feast.

I was excited … and concerned by what I saw.

 

Is it cause for existential angst? You betcha.

 

Let’s face it, we are and will continue to be tracked and traced to within an inch of our lives … and the situation is only going to get worse as the level of sophistication continues to evolve.

 

Be afraid … be very afraid, not of the play but of the concept it prosecutes.

 

Two hours, including interval, I Have No Enemies is playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 20th April, 2024.

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