Sims is taken into questioning by Morris, an investigator of the virtual world The Hideaway that Sims has created where clients are able to act out their desire with the star of this world, the little girl Iris. The Nether, or the internet, is a place where people can be anyone and fulfil their every fantasy. It is true now and it is going to be even more immersive and real in the future as the writer Jennifer Haley envisages in her play.

This is an examination on the morality of the virtual world where consenting adults convene and indulge in their deviant acts. The question is whether the virtual appearance of a little girl makes it wrong or illegal. It lays out the argument of whether something that is inherently immoral or illegal, or whether this world acts as a refuge so they do not commit the act in real life. Though the arguments do not go beyond what case law such as R v Brown([1994] 1 AC 212) discussing whether consenting adults participate in sadomasochistic act should be penalised. And the added layers of the internet and the presence of virtual children do not extend much of what has already been extensively discussed. The play poses an interesting scenario, but it does nothing more than setting the outline, lacking insight, forceful argument and conclusion.

Despite the shortcoming of the play, the set design is stunning. The shimmering virtual world with its reflecting panels and tree lined surrounding, floating bedroom and a sense of classic colonial grandeur reflects the endless possibilities of the virtual world which Es Devlin the set designer has explored to the full. The acting can be distant, probably because of the lack of back story from the characters. The haziest of which is Morris, played by Amanda Hale who is obviously troubled and affected by the investigation. But the play does not give any hint as to the reason and this diminishes her reason to be so determined for pursuing the case. Similar statement can be made for Sims and Doyle, the two being questioned.

This is another Headlong production that is full of gloss and flashiness on a topical and interesting subject but lacking in substance in the debate and discussion.


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