Review: Influenced

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Impressive all-round ’s Influenced is a gripping watch. The one-man show follows Erik, played by Ollie Cochran, who has recently started a YouTube channel, which has been inspired by a group of ‘friends’ who convinced him to be the face of the show that promotes extremely problematic content. This earns a plethora of views that leave him a high profile. The play explores themes of truth and just how much power one person can hold. Although the premise is dramatic and dark, the monologue has elements of comedy which are essential and break up the difficult content. Brilliantly directed by Emily Kelly, and assisted by and Mindy Cao, the play absorbs the audience and leaves them astounded.

Setting the comical bar high as soon as the lights went down, the audience was told to welcome to stage the Erik, when a set of hands popped through the curtains and held up a sign telling us not to applaud! Soon this character comes on stage and it becomes abundantly clear what a fantastic performer Cochran is. Taking to the end on stage set with just a desk downstage right and clothes rack upstage, Cochran enters. The entire performance is captivating and it is impossible to put into writing how natural and believable he made this twisted story. Bringing energy from start to finish whilst also being alone on stage is no easy feat, and Cochran excels. His movement is confident and definite, and his voice control is fluid and excellent in communicating his character’s emotions, particularly as this is an incredibly layered character that Twinn has created. Although Cochran’s voice says one thing, his physicality says another, and this is excellent in communicating this character’s complicated story.

The entire performance is captivating and it is impossible to put into writing how natural and believable he made this twisted story

This intelligent writing pattern continues throughout the whole piece. Most notable about this play is its flow. There are funny, intense, shocking and emotional moments, written in an order that allows the nature of the play to feel natural. It also means that as an audience we are taken on a clear journey and it is easy to get wrapped up in the action on stage. From the moments of Cochran dancing to ABBA to the second he begins to realise just how much of a danger his ‘friend’ Alex is, the play explores mood and tone which keeps it entrancing. It is a dark storyline that Twinn has crucially managed the intensity of, making it more digestible to audiences. With a unique character and narrative created, Influenced is a strong piece of student writing.

Another great element of the play is the ambiguity of whether or not we should like Erik. It is left completely up to the audience’s interpretation, allowing for a more involved watch. Although this character does terrible things and appears to lack morality, the direction impressively gives Erik moments of vulnerability. These moments show that Erik’s true thoughts and feelings eventually catch up with him, and it becomes clear that does have the desire to challenge Alex’s control and influence. Towards the end, the fast pace of rushing around the stage as if in a nightclub is immediately slowed and calmed as Erik is shown that Alex is not who he says he is, this is a key moment that highlights Erik’s critical ability, and showcases this character is not someone who can be easily led.

The direction of the entire piece is thoughtful and done with purpose

The direction of the entire piece is thoughtful and done with purpose. The entire stage is used, and it is clear Kelly made her choices with intention. Nothing feels out of place and as an audience member you watch this play without any question of believability, as it feels too real to do so. Injected with varying pace and movement, again the direction gives the play a natural flow. Voiceovers are also included, which although could feel unnatural and distract from the natural elements of the play, Cochran’s reactions on stage meant they did not. They were a great addition in creating the character of Alex, who is the main influencer of Erik and his opinion of truth.

Influenced is an impressive piece of student theatre. Exploring themes of truth and the dark side of the internet, it is a play that will have you questioning what you believe. It highlights the importance of fact-checking, amid a gripping story. The entire team should be incredibly proud of what they have created.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Influenced

  • I am not surprised that Ollie Cochran excelled in his performance as he has always come alive on stage and gives the performance everything he has got.

    Reply
  • a stunning performance by my darling dearest brother, oh how i adore your acting

    Reply

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