Directed by Anthony Moseley
At Collaboraction Theatre, Chicago
Performances dominant in Internet games playing – Dark Play or Stories for Boys
It is 2008 long after chat rooms were the rage on the Internet. Facebook and social networks now rule the Internet. We encounter Nick (Clancy McCartney) as he has just finished having sex with a cute co-ed in his college dorm room. Nick narrates his memory play back to 2004 when he was 14 years old and chat rooms were the rage on the Internet.
Nick is a sexually frustrated teen and adventure seeking lad who devises ever more dangerous Internet games to quench his thirst for danger and control over others. Based on a true story of a British teen who ventured down a dark path into the virtual world from a 2005 “Vanity Fair” magazine story, Nick creates a fictional Internet identity first as a harmless prank then as a personal obsession. Being able to influence and manipulate the emotions of another as they search for intimacy, sex and love, overtakes Nick. He calls that ‘dark play.’ Control, power and thrills were Nick’s motivation.
He meets Adam on a chat room as Adam admits that: “I want to fall in love.” Nick invents Rachel who chats, flirts and arouses Adam. But Rachel is really Nick. Nick becomes in infatuated with Adam. Is Nick gay or bi-curious?
We seek Adams and Rachel’s chat room dialogue nimbly play out on stage with Olivia Dustman playing Rachel as a sort of Nick as a women. Sorium Brouwers and Jane deLaubenfels are the Netizens who play out the various characters Nick invents to sustain his fraudulent persona.
The chat room romance escalates to face-to-face meeting as Nick desires need to be satisfied despite the major problem he faces. How can he meet Adam since Adam things Rachel is a 5 foot sexy dirty blond girl?
Without giving away too much, let me say that playwright Carlos Murillo structures the real world scenes plausibly as the scenario of love, obsession and betrayal unfolds in reality. McCartney and Kirby were outstanding in these scenes. The escalation of the dark play game eerily moves into the depths leading to the brink of death. The emotional and physical rush one of the players gets makes the game worthwhile. It is refreshing to see several newbies land their roles with skilled aplomb. I especially liked Clancy McCartney performance as he convincingly played a sadistic amoral teenager. His narrative skill early on got us engaged into the world of the dark play. My only quibble in this production comes from the annoying background music that often distracted me form the spoken action. I’d turn off the background music. But, Dark Play or the stories for boys is a worthy journey into the potential power of the Internet to shape personal foibles.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 16, 2012
For more info checkout the Dark Plays page on theatreinchicago.com
At Collaboration in the Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, www.collaboraction.org, tickets $15 – $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm, running time is 87 minutes without intermission, thru March 11, 2012