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Review - Alex: A Play with Holograms: a cute and wholesome play

By Nahima Abraham

Alex: A Play with Holograms

Written by Shane Pike

Directed by Shane Pike

Dramaturg Kathryn Kelly

La Boite // QUT Campus

Kelvin Grove

Season has ended

Runtime 50 mins with no interval.

In this age of constant plugging into technology and social media, it’s little wonder we are all feeling overwhelmed. Least of all, would be our children. Not only are kids these days expected to behave and look a certain way, but they also leave themselves exposed to secretive bullying, shrouded in anonymity, which can lead to issues with mental health, such as depression and anxiety.

These larger-than-life topics and more are what Alex: A Play with Holograms attempts to tackle. In a world first attempt at pairing AR (augmented reality) and live theatre, ‘Alex’, follows the story of young Charlie (Jeanda St James) and her dad, Jamie (Zachary Boulton). We find the pair, along with their dog, on a picnic where all is not what it seems. After her dad is dragged into a sinister netherworld, Charlie ventures through a foreign portal into the situation all on her own – almost. Along the way, Charlie finds the cheery Engelbert Sparklepants and a sentient ‘OK Google’ who talks to Charlie as she ventures into the gloomy dark. Armed with courage aplenty, Charlie finds herself at the climax of the story, and in a situation where she has to confront not only the fears of her father, but those of herself.

Alex is the sort of play at would benefit children most, perhaps those aged between 10-15 years old. It does hold elements that are a frightening to children who are younger, with the AR elements and characters being used to great effect to scare. Alex also has a story that could appeal to parents, and encourage them to have difficult conversations with their children. From encouraging appropriate social media and smart phone use, to how to talk to a child about their mental health, Alex, broached a range of topics.

Overall, Alex was a cute and wholesome play that looked to encourage good conversation around uncomfortable topics. The use of AR was novel, and went off without a hitch. Personally, this marriage of tech and live theatre could have been explored more and in different ways than what was offered. Despite this, it was a great insight into what is now possible regarding theatre. Alex: A Play with Holograms was certainly a good play to explore hard topics with.


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