E-DENTITY by Michael Spence, directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas (Theatre Gargantua/Mirvish). At the Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King West). To May 20. $20-$65. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Do we often interact face-to-face these days? Seems like e-mail, text messaging and chat rooms have taken over, a fact that Theatre Gargantua explores in an expanded version of its hit show e-DENTITY .
Michael Spence 's script, a series of episodes in which characters attempt to connect for professional, social or sexual reasons, is as intentionally fragmented as a leapfrogging hour spent on the Net. A computer keyboard becomes an umbilical cord for these people, linking them to a world that's more often fantasy than reality.
The writing, especially the comedy, is some of Spence's best, despite some unnecessary repetition. Even so, the smart scenic design by DroegeDesigns and Spence provides a clever, ever-changing series of visuals to move us briskly along the electronic highway.
Director Jacquie P.A. Thomas relies on the troupe's trademark a cappella music and fast-paced, athletic movement to grab the audience's attention, giving animation to an activity that's often desk-bound by nature.
It's surprising - or maybe it isn't - how many of the scenes involve cyber-sex, either of a pickup or a cheating nature; even keystrokes can turn orgasmic.
One clever segment is set in a chat room (we read text as well as listen to it) where philosophy and politics turn to sensual bear-baiting when an innocent young woman enters and wants to organize a religious rally.
Of course, several episodes play with Web anonymity. Who is the person at the other keyboard really? One scene has a woman communicating with a constantly changing roster of others, male and female, all of whom use the same online name.
The best moments involve Gordo (Spence), initially a techno-novice trying to buy ball bearings over the Internet. He later becomes a role-playing- game junkie at work (some great visuals show a universe of dwarves, elves and office supervisors) and eventually moves to the final stage of computer evolution, a melding of the human and the electronic.