Could I be addicted to my smartphone? It’s a question that has drifted across most of our minds at some point – a vague blip on the radar, quickly rationalized and moved to the mental backburner before opening our next app.
Writer and performer Joseph Price explores this notion with Phantom Limb, directed by Amy Couchoud. A solo performance, Price’s only technical effect is an iPhone screen projection, with lights and board by Julia Sienkiewicz. He uses the projections as one would a slide-show, beginning by admiring the “new phone smell” of his iPhone. The year is 2015, and having just switched from Andriod to Apple, Price soon finds himself on a subtle, slightly insidious journey.
Things start off innocently enough. His home screens are prioritized by the apps he uses most often, with social apps like Twitter and Facebook tucked into the third, rarely visited screen. Price decides to try out a dating app and meets his wonderful, vibrant girlfriend. With a new and exciting relationship, things are looking bright for Price. Then the Trump era happens.
Like a lot of us, Price finds himself entranced by the spectacle that unfolds over the next couple of years. With each new notification, he finds himself engaging more and more on social media, arguing politics with old classmates, and then needing to unwind from that stress with gaming apps and fluffy Corgis on Instagram. What follows is a dangerous snowball effect, one that, as the social and gaming apps are moved to his front screen, begin to slowly take a toll on his lifestyle and relationship.
The material is well organized and extremely relatable (unfortunately), and Price’s delivery is full of humor and insight. If you’re reading this review right now on your smart phone, go ahead and grab a couple of tickets! Also, look out for that low-hanging tree branch you’re about to walk into.
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.