Dante or Die’s Terry O’Donovan: ‘I guess User Not Found is different to our previous experimental work; we really want to guide you through this.’
What happens to your digital life when you die?
User Not Found — Chris Goode’s new show for Dante Or Die examines just that. On paper, the premise scans as complicated and dark, but in the capable hands of O’Donovan and Goode, is accessible and engaging. We are handed headphones and a mobile phone as the responsibility of a legacy in cyber space is unpacked.
Performed single-handedly by Terry O’Donovan, this is Dante Or Die’s first time performing at the Fringe.
Dante or Dieare renowned for their site-specific work. But why did they decide to set their show in a family-run cafe? “I love Edinburgh and this is our first ever Fringe show. The cafe seemed perfect because when we began planning this show we would regularly meet in coffee shops and look around and everyone would be listening to music or glued to their I-phones,” O’Donovan says, as we talk on the phone.
Theatre is the perfect way for us to share grief– not only via narratives that audiences can relate to but in a safe space where they can feel at ease. “I love the idea of communal spaces but that we are mostly together but alone together,” he says.
“As a creative team, we wanted to tackle the subject matter from the human experience – both the storytelling and the technological elements of the show,” he explains.
O’Donovan is a deft master of exploiting setting without relying on it. “User Not Found relies on the audience. One of the things our lighting designer has done is built these lanterns – hopefully the audience won’t realise its part of the performance. But we have definitely made the most of the space.”
Does he think we have a time bomb on our hands? “It’s interesting the way things are going – the way content is consumed and generated; we really wanted to play with the idea of legacy and probe exactly why we need to share so much of ourselves online,” he says, with a perceptible Irish lilt.
He continues. “There is a fascinating tension between the public and THE (not be ) private. “I guess User Not Found is different to our previous experimental work; we really want to guide you through this,” O’Donovan says.
With Chris Goode’s poetic words, you feel O’Donovan is engaging us individually in his own moral dilemma about the pros and cons of the Facebook generation.
Increasingly we are reminded of our own mortality. Life really is quite short and death is one tough subject that has always been hard to get right on stage. With more than half of young adults admitting to excessive use of smartphone, User Not Found couldn’t be more vital.
User Not Found is running at Traverse at Jeelie Piece Cafe, Edinburgh, until 26 August.
Touring throughout October.