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Pig Brain review: Dystopian farce takes aim at online paranoia and digital mores

Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Ambitious drama promises more than it delivers but is powered by Emma Finegan’s kinetic performance

Pig Brain

Boys’ School, Smock Alley Theatre

Sitting in her bedroom, social-media influencer Voyagr (Emma Finegan) live-streams preparations to blow up herself and the city where she lives. The reason? To draw attention to the nefarious designs of tech mogul Elon Musk, whose (real-life) insertion of computer chips into the eponymous porcine organs is a trial run for the (hopefully fictional) implantation of such devices into humans. The only problem is that Voyagr has lost her followers since ditching online dance tutorials for tech-terrorism manifestos: she has just one fan, Cosmo (Jimmy Kavanagh), a disembodied cybervoice goading her to end her existence.

Mixing dark satire with sideways ruminations on artificial intelligence and the nature of consciousness, Sam Killian’s script doesn’t quite fulfil its ambitious premise. But under Annachiara Vispi’s direction, themes of paranoid conspiracies and online atomisation imbue this multimedia production with contemporary resonance, while smart twists keep the narrative moving nicely. Above all, Finegan’s performance, by turns funny, kinetic and poignant, powers the production, with Kavanagh’s updated HAL 9000 doubling as a memorable geek chorus.

Runs at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin 2, until Friday, September 16th, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival

Mick Heaney

Mick Heaney

Mick Heaney is a radio columnist for The Irish Times and a regular contributor of Culture articles