During the current pandemic, many theatre companies are discovering new mediums to experiment with in relation to their stagecraft. However, not all online theatre needs to put Zoom front and centre to succeed; Duologues: Four Minute Warning is one such example of this.
It tells the story of the last two men tasked with alerting the British public to an impending nuclear attack. Although there are passing references to the new medium – “you can’t play I spy on Zoom, Arthur” – the bulk of the 20-minute piece takes on a more introspective bent. The pair discuss how they’d spend their last four minutes on earth before radioactive vaporisation, and touch on the role of spear-wielding masculinity in our current age.
The actors successfully weave between gentle comedy and the genuine fear of futility that many of us feel as we stare down the barrel of automation – Four Minute Warning serves as a reminder that none of our occupations are as immune to obsolescence as we’d like to think they are. In addition to the interesting ideas explored in the show Doug Muir and Ryan DK Cogman have strong chemistry as Malcolm and Arthur (respectively), making their relationship as co-workers entirely believable.
Unfortunately, the script does meander at times with repetitive dialogue disrupting its flow. These issues are particularly pronounced due to Four Minute Warning’s format; when you’re working with such a condensed runtime, every line counts. Overall, however, Four Minutes manages to pack a philosophical punch, as the duo effectively balance humour with the genuine unease produced by capitalism in its final throes.
Duologues: Four Minute Warning is available to watch until 31 January here