Rachel Ofori‘s FLIP! introduces Carleen (Leah St Luce) and Crystal (Jadesola Odunjo), two friends with one vlog, and a shared hope for online fame, plus the accompanying financial security. After one misjudged post, that dream seems dead, only for a new social media platform FLIP! to offer a second chance.
The sheer polish of FLIP! is evident from the first moment, a cynically comic promo for FLIP! segueing into the vibrant, sharply observed lives of the two would-be stars. Director Emily Aboud sets the bar high and keeps it there. Pacey without being breakneck, Aboud takes Ofori’s well-tuned dialogue and uses it to catalyse the natural chemistry between the leads. The sparks fly, and flames prove inevitable.
Vignettes of the pair’s early content creation are a delight, funny, warm, and full of personality. Their efforts visibly evolve, growing slicker and better scripted. Ambitious, energy-infused choreography under Aline David, and KJ‘s laser-sharp lighting help make each ‘episode’ a superbly entertaining mini-event. It’s believable when their audience grows, and doors begin to open.
The fictional FLIP! platform combines the worst of ‘X’ and ‘TikTok’, shortening content to a matter of seconds, and financially rewarding content creators by the ‘FLIP’. The temptations of exploitative clickbait begin to blight the two women’s relationship, even as success beckons once more. Crystal might declare, ‘Are we afraid of getting cancelled…? We eat that sh*t for breakfast’, but that assumes their ‘we’ will survive.
Ofori’s commentary expands further when a ‘management’ company takes notice of Carleen’s growing popularity and offers to work wonders with her image and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Lucrative content she would not have made herself is suddenly only a click to consent away, convenience and money relentlessly wearing down her ethical boundaries. When the alternative is dead-end, insecure, and poorly paid employment, who’s to blame her if she clicks OK?
Set against the show’s deeply contemporary themes, is a wonderful and versatile sense of humour. FLIP! is continually laugh-out-loud funny, embracing the silliness of youth, without making either woman silly in the least. Ofori also has the confidence to avoid sentimentality in the show’s ending, though it feels a little sparse in contrast with the richness of the show prior. It is completely apt nonetheless.
The final kudos must go to a captivating Odunjo and a dynamic St Luce. Their fraught, but deeply important friendship is utterly believable, as are their individual personal journeys away from each other. Their investment, physicality, timing and charisma safeguard FLIP! from becoming more fable than play.
Slick, funny, thought-provoking and relevant, Rachel Ofori’s FLIP! makes for 75 minutes of theatrical gold.
FLIP! is a co-commission of Fuel and Soho Theatre, as part of Soho Six.