The internet acts like an eldritch horror in a new play from Edmonton's Liam Salmon
By Liam Newbigging | June 7, 2023
Liam Salmon wants the plays they write to get people thinking, and the most flattering compliment to them is when people have long, post-play conversations. Their new play, Subscribe or Like, from Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre, already has people talking.
“There have been a couple of reviews where people say that they talk to their friends for, like, half an hour afterwards in the parking lot,” says Salmon. “That would be exactly my goal.”
Salmon says the drama for this project occurs in two ways. As it follows a YouTuber couple, Rachel and Miles, tensions rise in their relationship and life — as you might expect from a couple who actively posts on the internet. But the other hand of the drama comes from the internet itself.
“There is that weird sort of almost supernatural force that the internet is having on them, right? As they’re chasing the likes and views,” Salmon says. “There’s sort of like an eldritch aspect to it because [the Internet] is kind of never-ending and [it’s] very fickle [with] what people sort of buy into or find interesting.”
Salmon first started working on the script for Subscribe or Like in a writing class while attending the playwriting program at the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) in 2017. From there, it went through many developments as Salmon graduated NTS, moved back to Edmonton and had the script workshopped. Over six years, the play made its rounds through Edmonton Public Library open mic nights, Alberta’s Playwrights Network and through the pandemic — sometimes over Zoom with Workshop West.
“It’s been quite a long development, actually,” they say. “Which is kind of unusual, actually — to have that many resources put into a play — but I think it resulted in a really solid, sort of thriller.”
And the payoff is something that is going to get audiences to think, laugh, sweat, and maybe even squirm a bit due to some more intense moments. While Salmon loves to get people’s brains working, they also love seeing audiences’ “visceral reactions” to some of the more brutal scenes.