Western Premiere of “Mob” Confronts Digital Toxicity
Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre plumbs the depths of online toxicity with Mob
By Jesse Cole | November 1, 2023
What does it mean to be online? Where do our online personas and the real us meet? Does what we say online really have an impact? Those are just some of the questions examined by a new play arriving at Gateway Theatre this month.
Mob is a 2018 psychological thriller written by Quebec’s Catherine Anne Toupin and being premiered in Canada’s west by Workshop West Playwrights Theatre (WWPT). The performance, described as Hitchcock-ian by director Heather Inglis, explores the mob mentality that has come to define the modern internet and how it manifests in the real world. The play follows Sophie, a young woman who, having lost her job, embarks on a journey out of town to a remote bed-and-breakfast shrouded in mystery.
Inglis, who has been the artistic director of WWPT since 2019, says choosing to present Mob now felt timely in a world where online discourse has become particularly aggrieved.
“I love to present works that really ask questions about who we are right now living in this culture,” Inglis says. “The anonymity of the internet can allow people to say some pretty dangerous things and the play really digs into that.”
In Mob, the digital world is explored through the analog interactions of the characters whose lives are touched by it.
“It’s not a play where we’re trying to show people what the internet looks like on stage — we all know what that looks like,” Inglis says. “Rather, it looks at the effects of behaviour online with people that live in flesh and blood in the real world with us.”
While Mob will make its Western Canadian debut Nov. 2, the play is already critically acclaimed. Titled La Meute in the original French before being translated by Chris Campbell, the performance first played at the Theatre La Licorne in Montreal and went on to be remounted twice. It was set for a sold out run at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre, but COVID-19 halted those performances.
In bringing the play to Edmonton, Inglis has amassed a powerhouse team to bring the performance to light in the best possible way. Featuring Kristin Johnston (Baroness Bianka’s Bloodsongs), Graham Mothersill and Davina Stewart (Witch Hunt in the Strand) as the core cast, the performance also boasts set design by Beyata Hackborn, costume design by Sarah Karpyshin, lighting by Alison Yanota and composition by Darrin Hagen.