MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Nether

By Jennifer Haley.

Directed by Karen Kessler.

At A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago.

“What can be served by spending so much time in something that isn’t real?”

“The opportunity to live outside consequence” – Sims

Provocative futuristic crime drama can creep-out some.

A Red Orchid Theatre seems to find plays that shake-up audiences. There latest, The Nether, is a disturbing look into the techno future as entertainment reaches a new level that blurts out virtual reality from vivid sensory immersion. When a man develops a virtual wonderland that allows a person to escape into a land where he can enjoy his most evil desires with an avatar. Sims (Guy Van Swearingen) has developed a virtual place, The Hideaway, where pedophiles can unleash their desires, with little girls who are really avatars. This is  a way for pedophiles to unleash their sickness without actually harming humans.

But the officials from The Nether, the replacement for the Internet have rules, laws and procedures to govern the impact of these advanced virtual reality sites. We meet Morris (Ashley Neal) as she interrogates Sims about his site- The Hideaway. We are both fascinated and disturbed by this crime drama as we  see how The Hideaway is a charming place for the little child, Iris (Maya Lou Hlava) who is a pure innocent child ripe for the plucking. Shes seems human but is actually an avatar.

We meet participants who love going into The Hideaway: Woodnut (Steve Schine) -a manner weirdo and the teacher, Doyle (Doug Vickers). Each of these sickos are grilled by Morris and each try to justify playing out their sexual desires which could include murder and dismemberment of Iris. I’ll not say more so not to giveaway more.

Utilizing a futuristic set (design by John Musical) with creepy lighting (by Mike Durist), The Nether becomes a  haunting drama that questions responsibility, both individuality and governmental, as to the limits of entertainment in the new tech realities. The Hideaway  goes farther than our present violence-oriented virtual games that many are playing too much.

The Nether contains powerfully disturbing performances by Guy Van Swearingen and Doug Vickers as the two weirdo who cherish The Hideaway.  This play will shock and creep you as it gets you to worry about how technology will interact with human frailty. Will these virtual realities do more hard that entertain? And what is societies responsibility to police these powerful sensory immersion sites? This play, it’ll shake up your world.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

For more info checkout The Nether page at

At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, Chicago, IL, call 312-943-8722,, tickets $3- – $35, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through March 12, 2017.