If Miss Fritton, head of the legendary St Trinian’s, had decided to turn her establishment co-educational and at the same time taken to promoting social activism amongst the students, the result might look a little like the opening scene of ‘Hacktivists’.
‘Hacktivists’ has a slightly shaky start, but the cast grow more confident in their playing as the script moves into more serious subject matter.
While we expect Miss Fritton’s young ladies to use the computer labs for online betting, the twelve-strong team turn, in this case, to computer hacking.
To begin with, it’s all in an, if not entirely good, then by no means bad cause; the objectionable behaviour of a bully is paid back via online humiliation of the perpetrator.
With the introduction of new member of the group, however, both status and morality begin to be questioned, leading to a closing scene in which moral choices have to be made, but which rightly leaves the audience examining its own consciences.
There’s quite a lot to absorb in fifty minutes, as we are given a potted history of recent instances of cyber warfare that for obvious constraints of time and politics can barely skim the surface of a highly complex subject area.
Nonetheless, this is a very ambitious piece of work that works well most of the time, especially when the cast are allowed to explore and demonstrate the dynamics of the group and the differing positions they adopt toward what they are engaged in.
If there is a cavil, it’s that (presumably) time and possibly budget constraints prevented the use of technology where it could have allowed both script and cast to more fully develop both characters and their differing responses.
In an increasing visual as well as virtual world, use of even the much-mocked PowerPoint could have contributed to lifting the arguments and ambivalences beyond statements of fact and position.
That said, it’s enormously cheering to discover some very clear-eyed commentaries being made by young people about the world they are entering.
Til 7 March