The Nether @ The Duke of York Theatre, London

24th April 2015
Review by Ben Spencer
Rating: 4/5

Cast: Anna Marine: (Morris), Stanley Townsend: (Sims), Ivanno Jeremiah: (Woodnut), Issabella Pappas: (Iris), Nigel Carrington: (Doyle)

Team: Jennifer Haley (Writer),  Jeremy Herrin (Director), Es Devlin (Designer), Luke Halls (Video Designer), Nick Powell (Composer), Christina Cunningham (Costume Designer), Paul Pyant (Lighting Designer), Julia Horan (Casting Director), Des Kennedy (Associate Director)

the nether

We’ve all heard the cliché from our parents generation of “One day the internet will take over the world”, but what happens when the internet becomes the world? This is a question that Jennifer Haley’s The Nether puts to a crowded evening at the Duke of York Theatre’s penultimate performance.

The production begins with flashing images from a television projector screen, as an interrogation ensues between an online detective and the most sought after criminals of the digital world, a paedophile ringleader named Papa.

When the play’s description said it delves into the darker side of humanity, it sure as hell wasn’t joking. That’s right, it’s a plot that revolves around the criminal activity of online paedophiles who turn their attention toward a world without consequence, a realm within the Nether known as the Hideaway.

the nether 2

At face value, this does appear controversial but the plot quickly redeems itself by opening up a moral contention between whether or not the Nether is creating paedophiles or whether it is protecting the real world from them. It is from here that the credible and multi -layered plot begins to unveil its forward glance into dystopia.

The Nether shifts between various interrogations and the historical events within the Hideaway, with each scene broken down by an array of flashing images between each one.

The drama shifts its focus towards an under cover agent who interacts with a virtual avatar child named Iris as a means of gaining evidence for Papa’s future prosecution. Throughout these interactions various themes around identity and loss, man’s ascent to God and oppression and freedom become the driving force behind the narrative itself.

Johan Persson
Johan Persson

From here both the psychological and moral parameters are constantly in contention with one another as the shocking, and somewhat haunting plot twists explode on stage with plenty of top notch acting from the whole cast.

While the ending did appear somewhat abrupt and ambiguous, the Nether is as an experience that leaves you thinking some time afterwards. While it may not be a production for the faint hearted; it is certainly something for the deep thinker through its compelling dialogue and cutting edge visuals. Superb stuff!