The Only Way Is Chelsea’s: Review (and what do you think of reality TV and social media?)

On Tuesday night, I did something crazy – I went out on a school night! Okay, so it’s not a school night any more, it’s a work night. And okay, it wasn’t really going out because I actually went to see a play, but I wasn’t home till after 10pm, and that’s crazy for me you know.
So I’ve called this a review, but I’ve never written a theatre review before. To be honest, I’ve never written any kind of proper review – I mean my book and clothes reviews are just what my opinion is of them and are not at all professional in any way, but there you go. My wonderful friend, Charley, was assistant director for the play, The Only Way Is Chelsea’s which is in York right now as part of the Takeover Festival. There has been a lot of research done into the play using workshops with young people, and Charley’s been telling me all about the different ways the actors were taught how to present their body language and speech in a way that presents them more convincingly as 14 year olds. And I guess it worked, because I believed it!
The play is set in a garage filled with boxes – not the most spectacular of sets, but it gave the play such a realness that it just worked. 14 year old Chelsea is the star of the show, along with her two friends Lee and Dionne. But she’s not the star just yet – Chelsea’s home life is turbulent, and what with changing schools and dealing with parents that are having a particularly hard time, she’s feeling insecure. When her cousin starts to become ‘Facebook famous’, the three concoct a plan to present Chelsea’s life as a reality TV show through the internet, using guides and scouts as her ‘friends’ and dressing her up in all the best clothes. You can of course see where this is going!
I wanted to talk a bit about the theme behind it though, because, even while I was watching the play, it got me thinking about the world of social media and reality TV – I guess that’s kind of the point, and why they’re reaching out to that age group. But it also has a relevance for me, despite being, ahem, 23 now. The way that Chelsea presented herself on the internet attracted all the ‘cool kids’ to her – her life could be made to look perfect just through those few minutes of video that they filmed of her. And it got me thinking about blogging, and how people make their lives look perfect in that, but you have no idea what’s going on behind the blog. I’ve seen a few posts about it recently actually, with bloggers explaining that, yes, their life does look perfect on the screen, but that’s because they use the blog as their ‘happy place’ and don’t want to share negative emotions there. But are they really doing that, or just trying to give the impression that their lives truly are like that just to gain internet popularity? And what is internet popularity anyway? Yes, I might feel validated because I have XXX number of followers, but to people who don’t know much about the internet world or blogging, what does that mean to them? Obviously in the play it translates to real life as Chelsea becomes popular in school and the area (the play is set in York, which was amazing because it was so relatable!). It was interesting to see the dangers of social media on life outside the internet too, for example, the fact that the video was not made private, meaning that everyone saw it. That’s not really expanded on much in the play, but from the way the characters react to the fact that the video can be seen by everyone, it just shows how bad it can be (or seem?) for people of that age – there could have been anything in that video, and it was shared publicly. Yes, I do that every day on my blog, but if there was something I just wanted one person to see and it went publicly, it would be a pretty panicky moment!
Gosh, I could just go on and on about this! It just made me wonder what image I portray through the internet and whether I do it deliberately or not. I don’t try to keep my blog positive in any way, in fact you’ve probably noticed just how much time I spend complaining about illness, weather, buses etc. And the clothes I wear are my real clothes that I wear in outfits everyday – but would I be wearing them if I didn’t have my blog? I don’t think I would – my blog almost puts me under pressure to make sure I dress in real life how I dress on my blog. I sometimes feel like I have to make a big effort because if I don’t, I won’t match up to the personality I portray on the internet. So I suppose I am guilty of it too.
But back to the play – it’s currently in York, with tickets still available for tonight, tomorrow, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening. The play is then moving on to Newcastle and finally London. Tickets for under 25s are only £6, and I highly recommend you go. I know there will be some bloggers from those areas reading this, and I think it’ll make you think about blogging and how you portray yourself, so go! And let me know what you think when you do. I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it!


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