Moderation delves into the swamps of internet depravity, showcasing its mental toll with powerful performances.
Despite my endless doomscrolling on every social media available on the app store, it’s clear I have only scratched the surface of the wealth of depravity available on the internet. Moderation presents the people who face this insanity head-on, responsible for deleting the swamps of scarring videos that can be found online - at the cost of their own mental wellbeing. We see the aftermath, people broken by this job, and the beginnings of a legal case against their perpetrators, expertly portrayed with an innovative set and brave performances.
Moderation maps the lives of two characters portrayed by Ellen Trevaskiss and Micheal Gillett as they meet to try and remember the details of their social media job to form a strong legal case against their employer. These are characters ravaged by their past, one taking to the strange coping mechanism of never touching the floor, only moving on pillows and mats in an irrational game of floor is lava quelling her PTSD; the other takes to more the conventional coping mechanisms of drink and drugs. The repercussions give a bittersweet relationship between the duo.
These characters are expertly portrayed, with the actors having a profound chemistry throughout. They guide us through the millennial corporate world that left these mental scars with skill and agility, taking on different personas throughout the story. For example, the depcition of ‘girlboss’ Cruella brutally satirises the uncaring, saccharine work environments. From gentle humour to visceral panic attacks, the two have a profound emotional presence, never doubting their stories or relationship for a moment.
The floor-is-lava coping mechanism creates a unique space across the stage, as the actors bounce between sliding cushions and primary-coloured furniture. This dynamism breaks up the heavy script and adds an element of tension, the audience gasping every time a foot nearly brushes the stage- floor. This is played for levity as well as more serious notes, and pays off with a truly touching ending. Perhaps they could have taken these technical aspects even further with lighting and sound to lean into this stylistic choice. Despite this though, the narrative pacing works well with this one-room setting.
While the characters mourn their loss of faith in humanity, Moderation leaves the audience with hope; despite the trauma they have endured, these two people might find a new normal, and we can too learn to deal with the hate humans are capable of, in a similar way.