Influence Review: A Journey Into The Upside Down
I never imagined I’d hear ‘Making Memories,’ ‘Yelverton Community Centre,’ and ‘Lidl’ uttered in close succession to one another, but I was wrong; I did. And the crazy, mind-bending experiences don’t stop there.
Influence by Andy McGregor, is performed by Plymouth’s very own absurdly talented Young Company, directed by Lucy Hirst, produced by Jane Pawson, and topped off by the inspired design, lighting and sound effects of Louise Worrall, John Purkis and Holly Harbottle. It’s more than apparent that everyone involved has put their heart and soul into making Influence. But they’re certainly not here to sell you a safe, fluffy tale of teenage friendship and adventure. Rather they’re forcing you to swallow a very bitter pill, and you’ve just got to fasten up and prepare for a wild ride.
With an 80’s Stranger Things vibe from the outset, there are bumbags, shell suits and scrunchies galore, however, the play is firmly smack bang in the modern day with memes, live streaming and smart phones at the core of the narrative.
And with a distinct Orwellian/Big Brother/Matrix style theme running throughout, Influence is a timely look at who and what controls us. We’re given a glimpse into a world which isn’t too far off our own contemporary reality where everything we do is watched and every move and action is predetermined by unseen forces.
Influence screams at you to question what is real and who is in control. As an audience member, you are left unsure of this at times as you’re sucked in, swept up, and spat out the other end. It’s not just the cast who are lab rats being poked, prodded and experimented on. With clever and crafty uses of audience participation, you really do feel like you’ve been part of an experience rather than a passive spectator of something that’s merely unfolding before your eyes.
If you like your theatre to be tame and understated, Influence isn’t for you. But, if you’re prepared to hold on tight and get ready for a journey which will keep you guessing, and leave you questioning who is pulling the strings in your own lives, then strap in and get ready for this unique and surreal once in a lifetime voyage into The Upside Down.