The year just started and it has already been an interesting one. Theater has come in droves to express their thoughts on the current administration, and they are doing it without taking prisoners. With evenings dedicated to the sole purpose of encouraging conversation and spreading messages of solidarity, we could say this is the new hot ticket in the theater world. So it’s easy to miss shows that are lost in the shuffle, that are not as obviously influenced by current events, the ones that have so much to say, like “Hi Fi | Wi Fi | Sci Fi,” which might not be on your radar. But this one of a kind production, that consist of plays written decades ago (and one new one), by Robert Patrick, might be the one that resonates the most, and you should be aware.
Starting with the short play “Action,” the audience is thrust upon a world of endless loops concerning a writer and his work. A cleverly structured piece, in here we have a cast that is completely committed to the fragile reality the characters exist in. The perfectly designed set helps us follow the plot as well as the dialogue, but it is the use of sound that truly helps the audience immerse themselves. This play prepares us perfectly for the second piece, in which the audience had to move to another part of the theater.
The second play was called “Camera Obscura,” and it digs into the world of global interconnection and long distance love stories. Written in 1968, it is eerie how much it predicted how life would be nowadays. Using projections in a 360 degree stage, we witness two lovers from different places trying to establish a dialogue and tell each other their feelings before their time runs out. It was a painful reminder of the world’s need for technology today and how it affects our relationships.
The next piece takes the projection game to a whole new level, using the whole space to tell us a tale of humanity in the age of telepathy called “All In The Mind.” The way this one pierces through our brains and collectively helps us understand what a future without secrets would be is outstanding. The fact that we have to follow them from screen to screen creates the sense of space in which they are lost and trying to find each other. This helps us understand the last play, the new piece “Anything is Plausible.” In that piece we are brought into another room and welcomed into a futuristic conference almost ten years from now. There, we are asked to watch a 3D version of the same play we saw before. Using cardboards to move around, a different cast now now do “All In the Mind” on stage instead of in projections, and the results are marvelous. Still scary, still powerful, but making the here and now a hilarious reality ready to crumble. The decision to end it with this one was definitely a smart one. Especially with the current use of CGI in film, this play brings up the question of how much should we go into the world of cyber genetics and what’s the cost?
In between “All In the Mind” and “Anything is Plausible” lies the simpler, yet more poignant work for the current global atmosphere. The heartbreaking “Simultaneous Transmission” presented us with two families and how their selfish reasons lead them to indoctrinate their kids to go to war with each other. A commentary on blind patriotism and what leads to the rise of fascism, it touches all the right emotional buttons to not only make the audience care for the characters, but for themselves. The way Jason Trucco and Billy Clark shaped this evening of Robert Patrick’s short and innovative plays provides an effect in which each one builds upon the other. This makes each part of “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi” as powerful and important as the last and the next.
Curating these types of events is tricky, and to get it this well done is hard work, and they do. The talent on display from the ensemble and the design team makes this a unique occurrence on the theatrical landscape today.
Out of 4 stars: