a petition for Network Neutrality
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For example, in a segment on privacy, one character is tormented by the years-later repercussions of his Google search on penis size that's permanently locked into data banks. It comes on the heels of a delightful scene focusing on the first use of the rotary telephone. Compared to the days when operators connected callers, and privacy was never an expectation in that technology, a pair of lovers delight that they can talk dirty to each other in private. With our social media, we've simply returned to the days when there is no expectation of privacy. The play delivers this verdict more with a wink of the eye than a sneer.
Five actors (Rachel Appelbaum, Vonzell Carter, Jenny Greer, Jeffrey Johnson, Liam Springthorpe) in futuristic clinical attire (costumes by Ariel Boroff) depict the essences of our telecommunications system, portraying "Receiver," "Channel," "Sender," "Feedback" and "Message," while also morphing into human characters buffeted by the swiftly changing technology. Juxtaposed against the taut high-tech/sci-fi dialogue, there are translucent screens in front of and behind the stage, on which are beamed a Wooster Group-ish array of images, from binary codes, to the stars in the night sky, to replications of the actors that dissolve into static. Sarah Krainin's set includes a metallic tree, a variation of the emblem from Waiting for Godot, dangling silvery cords that soon will wrap around the rolling set pieces. The Web, of course, is a spider's web. The play suggests that, as corporations merge, the system that was open is now closing, storing all buying habits and data searches in the hands of a few, giving them omniscient, God-like power.
McCray's staging blurs the distinctions between the actors-as-tech-components and actors-as-people, so that the production is fuzzier than the play. The production is so sleek, I find myself sliding off its many, many surfaces.
3269 Casitas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Region: Northeast L.A.
In many ways, Eternal Thou is a 21st-century answer to Czech playwright Karel apek's 1920 sci-fi play R.U.R., about a rebellion by robots programmed to serve men. It has much the same melodrama, and many ideas that circle around each other more than they interlink: privacy, cyber-bullying, ownership of data, memory, essences of perception, what we can find in the patterns of the stars in the sky.
Like Kilmer's Citizen Twain, it aims to fathom the mind of God.
ETERNAL THOU | Written and directed by Matthew McCray | Atwater Village Theater, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village | Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. (added perfs Thurs., April 12, & Mon., April 23, 8 p.m.) | Through April 23 | eternalthou.eventbrite.com