White Noise – Powerhouse Theatre

Written by Mo Gearing

Directed by Mo Gearing & Danielle J Gearing

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A lonely politician turns to the one solace he can find in a world locked away from physical interaction, to the company of one whose employment which predates, and will likely outlive all of his ilk – sex work. PoshBoy123, a Tory cabinet minister initially seeks some ‘fun’ with Lady De Franco when gradually the pair realise that a privately educated politician and a liberal history student may come from differing backgrounds, but agree on feeling that the world is blurting out indistinguishable ‘White Noise’.

Danielle J Gearing’s fierce autonomy catapults the role of Lady De Franco (Elise). There’s genuine pathos seeded into the character of Elise, a sex worker, more significantly a camgirl, who engages with people online in exchange for a fee. The judgements of sex work are front and centre throughout, with many of David’s (Paul Westwood) cheap shots at Elise as their relationship blooms concerning how someone can find the job rewarding or empowering. Here is where Mo Gearing’s script takes off. Elise’s sense of control over her body moderates anxieties of those who seek to abuse or belittle her.

Nuanced, Westwood’s take on a cookie-cutter Tory frontbencher is precisely the performance required, but the script doesn’t concede leeway until Act 3, where the miracle happens and David grows, could it be, a conscience? Here the role stretches out from the Hugh Grant meets Gove territory, and instead infuses what the character has been missing – motivation. With something to lose, the audience can move between the urges of both cast members now, rather than falling behind Elise and her passionate resilience.

This third act is where the production turns from a comedy with political aspirations into shades of Alan Moore, as revolutions and rebellion concerning a self-serving bureaucracy bubble over, and as numbers recognise Boris Johnstone’s government as a danger. The imagery is intense, and the inclusion of audio files to allow performers the opportunity to costume change aids in building a layered performance. These news snippets, though blood-curdling, are a tremendous enhancer of the theatrical nature of the production.

The live element over Zoom works and has an air of lewd secrecy to the entire affair, as if the audience shouldn’t be, but are desperately, watching. There are snippets of a missed opportunity to tie the viewers to the journalists who had inklings of David’s involvement with Elise, but regardless, the digital format works.

A wealth of thought to take from the production, but White Noise seeks not to offer answers but rather to hold people to account. Both Danielle J Gearing and Mo Gearing have crafted a show which is as live as we can experience right now, grabbing your attention – not by the arm, but by the unmentionables.

Review published for The Reviews Hub

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