Director Shannon Murphy on left and actress Caroline Brazier in a rehearsal space at the Ensemble Theatre Company, Kirribilli, Sydney. Photo: Tamara Dean
Is someone, somewhere, monitoring your internet searches? What about your downloads? Your PayPal transfers?
What if the police came to your door, arrested you and seized your computer's hard drive?
This is the scenario in Geoffrey Atherden's new play, Liberty Equality Fraternity, directed by Shannon Murphy and coming to the Ensemble Theatre. It's a fast and furious comedy, Murphy says, but one that might also lead audiences to go home and close their Facebook profiles.
''The play is about the very real possibility that any of us could be arrested at any point and not told why, and held in an interrogation room for quite a long period of time,'' she says. ''We think it only happens in other countries, such as China, but our laws allow that to happen to us here, too.''
Atherden's play also explores how much information we might be unwittingly sharing online. ''Everything from what song we've listened to the most in the last month to what our blood test showed last time we went to the doctor is available in databases and can be accessed, at some point, if someone wanted to do a thorough investigation on us,'' Murphy says. ''I think audiences might stop paying for things online after seeing the play. I'd be a bit scared about everything that is going into the iCloud, too, because what and where is that?''
Caroline Brazier, who recently won a Sydney Theatre Award for her outstanding performance in 2012's I Want to Sleep with Tom Stoppard, plays Orlagh O'Connor, a fortysomething academic and mother of two who is arrested one afternoon. She is baffled by the interrogation. Moreover, she finds her young interrogator, played by Andrew Ryan (Underbelly), laughable.
''She's much more intelligent than he is and a lot of the comedy lies in her finding his questions so repetitive and annoying,'' Brazier says. ''She is so frustrated because she has no idea what's going on.''
Atherden is best known for writing the television series Mother & Son and Grass Roots. ''I think Geoffrey's writing is laugh-out-loud funny but it's also gobsmackingly clever,'' Brazier says. ''The audience will definitely feel a bit unnerved and start wondering about all their iPhone and iPad apps.''
LIBERTY EQUALITY FRATERNITY
February 7-March 9, Ensemble Theatre, bookings 9929 0644, $30-$63.