Thursday, November 15, 2018

Terms of Use at Paperwing Theatre Company.

The set is black with neon trim paint, offering a bleak view somewhat inspired by Tron but with a sense of dystopia. Two monitors are locked on either side of the small stage where a lone bed lies atop nothing but a box spring, the covers disheveled as random "parts" lie scattered about. Motherboards, wires, some tools, and a chair-

Terms of Use is a science fiction exploration of a future that is far to near and far too present to our own time. Writer Patrick M. Brennan's stage-play calls for complex management of multiple media features, including interaction with video feeds and the live actors on stage. All of which is capably handled by the shows director, Erin Davison. The fictional world plays all too well with today's concerns with privacy and data mining too often hidden in the "terms of use" in so many current services which seem oddly free. In this "Fictional" story, Virtopia is the Virtual Reality world where many play, work, and spend their spare time. Miss V (Alyssa Matthews) is our virtual guide, company spokes-model, and the long pined for "Fantasy woman" of too many dreams. She is the Artificial Intelligence that learns just enough to be clever, but never displays an ounce of humanity within her circuitry.

Take a snapshot of a broken family. CC (Jay Brew) and Martha (Alanna Youngblood) are siblings living together many years after the death of their parents, but only a few short years after the estrangement of their outlaw sister, Fanta (Lucy Tran). They share the rent with local grifter, Erik (Jason Roeder). CC's recent hacking to create modifications to Virtopia are coming to a head as he's caught the attention of black market customers, a network of cyber-terrorists, and the company itself. His experiments may have also opened a door beyond death itself. Or could this be something worse?

Jay Brew brings his best performance to date as the deeply troubled CC, whose experiments may destroy everything his family has left. He's obviously broken from the moment we meet him, suffering from a childhood injury that's left him permanently crippled. But while CC is the deformed backbone of the show, the emotional heart is Martha. Alanna Youngblood is a force of nature on stage, capturing the heartache and worry of a sister on the edge of faith, hope, and heartbreak. She's largely turned a blind eye to the dangers of the virtual world, but it's also blinded her to the allure that threatens to tear her family apart.

And the siblings are going to have trouble knowing who to trust. Everyone wants a piece of what CC's found, for one reason or another.

8 out of 10 and an excellent production from Paperwing Theatre.

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