Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Review iAm 4.0

iAm 4.0
Co-Created by Mel Cook and Helena Thompson
with iAm casts

Experimentally Yours

What seems now centuries ago - in reality back in 2000 - your reviewer wanted to educate herself about technology and websites. So of course she purchased that cutting edge product - a book with real paper pages 😉 with the title "Don't Make Me Think!".

Now, 17 years later, iAm 4.0 aims to reverse the trend of unthinking clicking and their simple but intriguing show could just as well be entitled "Make Me Think!".

It would be churlish to give too much away - after all it will stop the corporation and boffins behind iAm perfecting their valuable product and patent. 😉 ;)

Nevertheless we arrive at the Playground Theatre in Hammersmith's Latimer Road. The head of the research team (Mel Cook who also directs) calls us in, a few at a time.

Then two scientists cum psychologists (Oliver Brassell and Seda Yidliz) with the obligatory official clip boards (ah, with such small matters is authority established!) ask some simple questions.

They may not want us to stop thinking as much as to start thinking according to their parameters.

Our answers to the multiple choice laid before us determine the teams to which we are then allocated. None of us in the focus groups know each othe but we team members bond courtesy of that cutting edge technology -  sticky name labels stuck on our tops.😄

It's then we encounter the real cutting edge technology (set and props design Emily Megson and Olivia Venables) with each team and product pitted against each other.

The experience begins deceptively gently, led by the three boffins who all, rather humorously, have a distinct sense of humour deficit.

They set various tasks for us to interact with our product and across the teams albeit with a spirited sense of competition between the groups and a growing bond within the team.

It's obviously carefully structured both visually and verbally. It's certainly suitable for anyone old enough to handle a mobile phone (which as with any other theatre performance have to be switched off!).

It's also very enjoyable! Let's describe it a bit like that old bonding game Twister but with a modern technology and social twist.

And of course the best product in the room (spot the clue!) is ours ... because she is all ours ...;) !!!

We should add that actors Roseanna Frascona,  Sydnee Howard and Liz Mergerson have a lot to do with adding immeasurable value to our consumer experience.  

There was just one minor flaw at the performance in which TLT participated where her team scored - a moral victory!  (No, that wasn't the flaw!).

The method of operating the iAm 4.0 product meant one team member had his or her back to the rest of the team, so we weren't always able to hear or see what was going on at that moment.

This didn't affect any of the tasks our team was set to execute with our product but proved a few seconds of irritation.

However, isn't that the whole point? We're sure it will be taken on board for those taking part in the iAm 4.5 or iAm 5.0 focus groups.

The theatre company SPID was formed to produce immersive, audience-participation drama with the aim of bringing people together. TLT went to a fundraising Grenfell Tower event, Grenfell Matters, where the whole evening raised more than £1,700.

So we are also happy to give a technologically advanced green light for our time with a delightful team and, yes, thought-provoking immersive drama done with a lightness of touch.

It's an experience  the relevance of which can also linger on afterwards - in our case, switching on the television to hear about workforce exploitation using bogus self-employed status where a lawyer described the situation as an archaic servant and master relationship.

SPID continues its current tour with a ticketed interactive performance on Saturday, July 15 at Kensal House in Ladbroke Grove and future events at venues including Bush Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and the Park Theatre.

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