By Chris O’Connell
Directed by Ben Fuchsen
At Oracle Productions
Video design and energetic acting saves Zero
Oracle Productions, and up-and-coming theatre troupe, has mounted a US Premiere of British playwright Chris O’Connell’s Zero at their Broadway storefront theatre. Zero is a tale of state sponsored torture in the name of order where we meet a military translator, Alex (Carl Wisniewski) who is so appalled at the torture he witnesses. He tries hard to fight such injustice with his fellow soldier, Tom (David Boren).
The story is a rehash of George Orwell’s 1984 with a contemporary state sponsored twist. Zero vividly depicts the use of hi-tech electronics to both control everyone and to inflict pain. James Ogden’s set together with Timmy Tamisiea’s video design allowed technical designer Eric Van Tassell to weave a world of total state control. Add energetic acting from Carl Wisniewski, David Boren and Raymond Jacquet and Zero adds up to worthy sum.
The script’s weakness—that a dissent officer would be allowed to continue defying that state’s authority in a world of complete control—makes for a troubled, predictable work with an unsatisfying conclusion. Here the production values and the acting are superior to the clichéd story. Once Oracle Productions finds stronger plays that equal their crafty production values, they will become a Chicago theatre asset. Zero give hints to their talents. Zero unfolds as worth a look.
At Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, www.oracletheatre.org, tickets $20, Thursday thru Saturdays at 8 pm, sundays at 7 pm, running time 2 hours with intermission, through June 21, 2009