Review: FLIP!, Soho Theatre, London

Photo: Tristram Kenton

Following dates in Newcastle and Edinburgh, Racheal Ofori’s new satirical play FLIP! lands at London’s Soho Theatre for a limited run under the direction of Emily Aboud. Ofori has created a biting satire that skewers both self-servicing influencers and the companies that ruthlessly profit from them, questioning the future influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in social media.

As the crowd filters into Soho Theatre, dissonant versions of hit songs play – Johnny Cash performs an out of tune version of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Out before Randy Newman’s voice proclaims ‘you can’t handle the truth,’ an unfamiliar line in You’ve Got A Friend in Me. AI is evident even before the action begins.

We follow two influencers, Carleen (Leah St Luce) and Crystal (Jadesola Odunjo) as their online following and influence grows. Following what they perceive to be an unfair ‘cancellation’ on their original social media platform, they make the switch to the controversial FLIP! with its short, easily-consumed content and questionable approaches to AI where their fame explodes, their problems grow and their relationship begins to buckle under the strain.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

This is a short production, clocking in at 75 minutes, but it feels complete. With the focus remaining steadfastly on the duo there are no unresolved plot-points, though there would have been some benefit to further exploration of Crystal’s podcast – what had she learned from their rise to fame on the FLIP! platform? How much had that influenced a switch from FLIP!’s short-form content to the long-format that a podcast allows and where there is more time for nuance. Aboud’s direction is slick, aided by movement direction from Aline David, as are the performances from St Luce and Odunjo. In the play’s short span both actors expertly capture the character’s growth and their changing relationship.

The titular app FLIP! that sends the duo towards fame bears more than a passing resemblance to TikTok, and there are other echoes in competing apps to Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter… or is that X? In that context, this is a timely and important modern fable on the perils of social media and AI.

FLIP! is at Soho Theatre, London until 25 November