It’s different to have impressions on my 18th show this year covered in Twitter posts, rather than a lengthy blog post. I felt like I was using my reviewer’s eyes to look at the show as it went on, as seen in some of my comments (“Skillful acting by Craig Marker…”) rather than my usual sitting back and letting my imagination wrap around the plot. I also noticed the script of the play more than in other recent productions. This was probably due to the mandate to post whatever I felt was notable. The next time I’m in a theatre just as an audience member – which, incidentally, will be tomorrow night – I will be curious to see if I notice the script as closely.
I’ve been seeing a lot of science fiction recently, mostly at the movies (The Adjustment Bureau and Limitless) but some at the theatre too. WIREHEAD made its way to the front of the pack, with a clever script that had evolved with the times. SF Playhouse’s press materials noted that the play has been revised following its Los Angeles premiere (world premiere?) last year. One scene riffed on the recent story of a computer beating a JEOPARDY contestant. Actors were highly committed to their roles, especially (as I noted in Tweeting) the versatile Craig Marker in the lead, who I thought was especially memorable in 9 CIRCLES last fall at Marin Theatre Company. Local actor Gabriel Marin offered forceful support in the leading secondary role. It was the first time I had seen him perform, although I am aware of his prolific Bay Area acting schedule.
I felt that the plot of WIREHEAD was most effective when it turned more allegorical and forceful towards the end of the show. There was a large amount of high strung exposition to lead off the play. This choice brought the audience in whole-heartedly from the start, but meant that the story’s impact might be delayed. The drama of the piece – will the lead character choose a plugged in or plugged out life? – did not become especially clear until about 2/3 of the way through the evening.
As I said when ruminating about HARPER REGAN, SF Playhouse always offers a commendable level of theatrical commitment with their work. It is clear that the actors, designers and production team want to be there and enjoy blending modernity with classic storytelling. They are plugging WIREHEAD extensively and have a great hook in this techno-savvy age.