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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 7, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 19
Sci-fi Senses a cautionary tale
Arts & Entertainment
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Sci-fi Senses a cautionary tale

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

When I Come To My Senses, I'm Alive
Annex Theatre
Through May 22


Before getting to the actual play - even one as fun, fascinating, thoughtful and delightful as When I Come to My Senses, I'm Alive by Scotto Moore - first I gotta give huge props to David Gignac, the set designer, for the best set ever built for the Annex Theatre. It's pretty. It's functional. It's clean and it works. Two massive moving walls allow for a sleek, modern boardroom look with opaque glass double doors, and then open to reveal a basement computer lab. For this small theater, it's a big jump forward in set design.

OK. The play: Scotto Moore writes & let's make up a phrase & "technical fantasy." His play, interlace [falling star], also at Annex, was set far, far into the future, with an infinite building "located in the center of the multiverse, the headquarters of the United Association of Interdimensionary Travelers." It was a big concept play and included Jesus and the Devil and their cosmic fight.

When I Come to My Senses, I'm Alive is more science fiction. A couple of geeks, Annique and Micky, have found a way to produce Annique's "emoticlips," which are downloadable feelings that enable the user to feel the emotions contained in the clip. What is most commendable is that Moore includes that the technology doesn't really give the recorded feelings, but the clip interacts with the feeling center of the receiver, who feels things as generated by his or her internal electronic sensors. You don't feel Annique's feelings; you feel your own version of Annique's feelings. What a cool concept! (And not very far off from realizable science, most likely.)

It's easy to believe that feeling another person's feelings might be addictive, especially if you are a feeling-phobe, or have a hard time feeling good. You could spend a lot of your time feeling someone else's good time, rather than feeling your own bad one.

The whole story involves a television corporation that wants Annique's technology to apply it to their current TV heartthrob to amp ratings. When Annique turns down their offer, they try to investigate "dirt" on her in order to better succeed in negotiations. Director Kristina Sutherland keeps the plot running briskly along, aided immeasurably by the coolly professional and emotionless investigator played by Jade Justad. Veronica, the investigator, is condescending and so thorough in her work that she finds everything bad about everyone. She is tasked to get dirt on Annique by a TV executive, Rowland (Curtis Eastwood), who she investigates before she even takes the job.

It's probably a writing mistake to have the executive have a 17-year-old morphine-addicted mistress - that's a bit farfetched. But the idea of finding a sordid secret to impress the TV exec is a good one. In a not-unexpected but nice turn, the investigator ends up with a soft spot for Annique and her crew.

Jennifer Pratt is Annique and embodies the intrepid scientific/artistic spirit, along with the confused, emotional lack of confidence that the part requires. Daniel Christensen, as Micky, is a great geek sidekick who clearly cares about Annique and has been there for her for years. Katie Beudert plays a new graduate, the whip-smart kind that would be scooped up by a Microsoft or Google, and who has been hired to take Annique's idea to the next marketing level. LaChrista Borgers and Jesse Keeter play a "quality assurance" team who realize that something is happening to distort or sabotage the emoticlips and loyally appear to help fix it before it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

The distortions or sabotage turn out to be a sentient internet bot waking up. This development underscores Moore's penchant for fantasy, incorporating "big ideas." Somehow, there is a new sentient being inside all this technology who is bigger than, and uncontrollable by, the technology. Lo and behold, there are more sentient beings to be found there, showing that humans have to be careful what they create because they might just create monsters. Ultimately, Moore's cool cautionary tale hints at unintended consequences of our actions.

For more information, go to www.annextheatre.org or call 206-728-0933.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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