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Audience (2023)

Snerdly (Shamrock McShane) arrives at the theater to watch a production of the show Audience. He’s not excited, and he anticipates a boring show. The people around him are frustrating, the bar line is too long, and his worst nightmares are coming to life.

This is possibly the most stressful film that I’ve ever watched, meaning it achieved its goal. Writer-Director Tom Miller does all that he can to develop stress, and nearly every second of Audience is bursting at the seams with stress and discomfort. While these things are typically considered negative, they work wonders for Audience, and it reels viewers in and keeps them focused from beginning to end. The stress that exists from beginning to ends is the most important part of the film, and the tension grows heavier and heavier as the film progresses.

Miller and his team use a series of techniques to ensure that the aforementioned tension exists, including the cinematography and sound. Viewers are effectively crammed into a small space with the abundance of characters, forcing almost the entirety of Audience to feel claustrophobic. That uncomfortable sense feeds the fire that exists throughout the film, and when we, like Snerdly, feel trapped in the chaotic theater. That claustrophobia transcends the film, and it adds to the depth of this masterpiece from beginning to end.

Furthermore, the sound plays a prominent role in developing the story, the intensity, and Snerdly. There is constant background noise present in Audience. Sometimes it’s people talking, sometimes it’s the score–regardless of what it is, though, it’s often deafening. More often than not when Snerdly is trying to talk or focus, there is some distraction–something that draws our eyes or ears away from the character. With that, viewers are forced to focus on Snerdly, forced to pay attention to his every word and every move. We become attached to him as a result of the sound, and by the end of the film every word that he utters resonates with me.

Snerdly is raw and honest, and while he initially seems put together, he’s broken like the rest of us. His monologue toward the conclusion of Audience is powerful, and it speaks to viewers. Every word matters, and he peaks at this time. McShane’s performance is beautiful, and Snerdly is one of the most relatable characters that I’ve ever seen.

Audience is honestly one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time, accurately conveying the issues of the theater and society as a whole. Snerdly is a small sample of that. Through his constant struggle, right up to the closing moments when he is finally able to say his piece, viewers can understand him, feel him even. Audience is one of those films that I could watch over and over again; and it’s likely that I’d find new meaning each and every time.

Written & Directed by Tom Miller.

Starring Shamrock McShane, Arleen Wolf, Carolyne Salt, Michael Garvin, Skye Melrose, etc.




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