‘Daddy’ Assessment: Further Into the Internet’s Darkest Corners

The French phase director Marion Siéfert has her finger on the pulse of our electronic lives. In “2 or 3 Factors I Know About You,” she playfully tackled oversharing on Fb, prior to turning to the perils of on line streaming in “_jeanne_darkish_” — a demonstrate that fell foul of Instagram’s moderation policies when it was relayed dwell on the platform.

With “Daddy,” a sharp, no-retains-barred new production at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, in Paris, Siéfert has ventured even more into the internet’s dark corners. In it, a 13-year-aged is groomed online by an more mature man and receives misplaced in a digital actuality match that exploits teenage women for financial gain.

It also marks a new stage in Siéfert’s vocation. “Daddy” is her initial significant-budget output for a important playhouse, and 1 of the Paris season’s most expected premieres. So Siéfert is swinging substantially larger, on each individual degree: larger cast, extra atmospheric sets and a fairly indulgent functioning time of three and a half hours. Still her biting originality continues to be intact.

Reality is no match for monitor enjoyment in “Daddy.” The central character, Mara, is a tranquil teenager from southern France. A subtly composed scene, early on, introduces her family members: Her parents, a nurse and a stability guard, are also fatigued by their improperly paid out careers to dedicate substantially notice to their daughters. It’s no shock that when she can, Mara escapes to the brighter landscape of online gaming.

In an unnamed video game, she joins Julien, a easy-talking 27-yr-aged who is her repeated online partner in crime. The straightforward intimacy they have constructed is showcased via a spectacular video clip sequence: On a screen the dimensions of the Odéon’s stage, we see a 3-D activity intended by the video artist Antoine Briot in which Mara and Julien’s avatars who shoot at enemies with assault rifles just before hopping on fluorescent skateboards.

All through, we hear Mara and Julien banter above their headsets. “You’re the most badass girl in this match,” Julien suggests.

The groundwork is laid for the abusive dynamic that ensues. When they very first meet up with outdoors the match, on a online video call, Mara confides in Julien that she dreams of currently being an actress. He compliments her, and tells her about “Daddy” — a new sport that will allow gamers, Julien states, to come to be avatars sponsored by sugar daddies, and showcase their skills to a “fan base.”

Siéfert has a knack for assembling captivatingly unconventional actors, and just as “_jeanne_dark_” was tailor-created for Helena de Laurens, a shape-shifter unafraid to lean into grotesque physicality, “Daddy” owes much to its two central performers. As Mara, the 15-year-aged Lila Houel, who came to the generation with constrained phase working experience, is coarsely candid in these early scenes, with turns of phrase that emphasize the character’s doing work-course qualifications. Reverse her, Louis Peres, best recognised as a screen actor, is a startling tech-generation descendant of Christian Bale in “American Psycho”: thoroughly clean-lower, in command, smoothly terrifying.

Siéfert’s smartest go is to go away movie and exclusive consequences guiding once the two enter the recreation environment of “Daddy.” The virtual area will become a sinister, in close proximity to-vacant phase dotted with what glance like snow mounds, wherever Mara encounters other preyed-on young gals.

The guidelines of “Daddy” aren’t wholly clear. Adult men spend so teenage girls can accomplish routines that earn them factors with followers. Houel, for occasion, interprets a scene from the motion picture “Interview with the Vampire” the sparkling Jennifer Gold, who plays the game’s reigning star Jessica, provides cabaret-design and style numbers, like Marilyn Monroe’s “My Coronary heart Belongs to Daddy” from the 1960 film “Let’s Make Like.”

The details and the admirers are never demonstrated — Siéfert retains factors deliberately obscure. The target is on the dynamics of boy or girl abuse, and the erosion of Mara’s individuality and willpower by Julien. While some scenes of verbal and physical violence are troubling more than enough to make you panic for Houel’s mental well being, she rises to the event with astonishing sang-froid, quietly haunted then seething in the next act.

Siéfert co-wrote “Daddy” with Matthieu Bareyre, and some of the points they make don’t need to have so much time to arrive throughout: Cuts would be welcome. Yet “Daddy” speaks to the zeitgeist and the life of teenagers currently with a combine of ease and critical distance that number of stage directors can match.

And even at 11:30 p.m., one particular closing scene experienced the viewers sitting down up and leaning ahead. Immediately after a bloody narrative twist, the back wall of the stage slid absent to reveal the avenue outside, and a performer staggered out of the game into the Odéon’s leafy neighborhood — while a number of passers-by stopped, puzzled, to peek at the action onstage. In Siéfert’s theater, the actual and the digital maintain colliding in invigorating approaches.


By May perhaps 26 at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris theatre-odeon.eu.