Edinburgh Fringe: Going Viral - Theatre review: A captivating and illuminating look at how emotions are transmitted online

Northern Stage at Summerhall

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The Independent Culture

Throwing the dual and very salient meanings of the word ‘viral’ at this stage of the 21st century together and seeing what comes back might suggest a rather pat concept for a show, but Teesside writer and performer Daniel Bye manages to instead coax them into the same orbit with subtlety and wit.

This solo show is both a captivating and at times illuminating insight into the science behind infection - deconstructing the more hysterical voices of the media when covering, say, the Ebola crisis – and a meditation on how this relates to “going viral” in the contemporary sense; how ideas and emotions are transmitted online.

He tells of and plays a young man returning from the furthest rural reaches of Africa, who leaves behind him a trail of people crying uncontrollably - #weepers, as Twitter names them. Yet he can’t cry, and when his neighbour discovers his role in the outbreak she tweets his picture and he becomes hunted, particularly by a young, female Indian doctor.

Amidst this Bye, clear and professorial, explains how disease works using liquorice allsorts and a little clever interactivity, and fosters a sense that nothing spreads quite like paranoia.