Ever done a google search on yourself? It’s an unusual self-reflective experience, almost like watching oneself in a mirror. Many people check it out every so often, meet with no major surprises. But what if it went terribly wrong? What if you learned that someone from your past misappropriated your name to use as a pseudonym as a gay porn star? What if you agreed to meet someone with your name who pretended to want to write an article about you and found yourself drawn into a macabre ménage a trois involving manipulative sado-masochistic violence? There’s no escape here.
Successful Showtime, Fox and ABC TV screenwriter Jason Schafer wrote the stage thriller i google myself as a topical ‘what if’ that descends into nightmarish levels of garishly intertwined relationships between three men, all of whom share names and connect through the google search engine. Featured on opening night of WaterTower Theatre’s 8th Annual out of the loop fringe festival and playing to an enthusiastic near capacity crowd, the short thriller helps kick off the diverse, creative festival in high fashion.
Mixing computer screen film projection of e-mail chat with intensely realistic overt and personal physicality, director Bruce R. Coleman (resdent artist at Theatre Three) masterfully spins his three actors through Mamet-like macho-energized scenes, never losing sight of the characters’ and script’s symbolic contrast between the remote, yet invasive, google medium and their face to face presence. What is googling yourself? “It’s ego-surfing. A surf engine snapshot of how you fit into the world,” flatly declaims one man. Schafer identifies his characters as numbers One, Two, Three in the program, which re-affirms the play’s focus on the character’s names as unique catalyst for the twisted plot. Well-crafted with skillfully potent pauses, the play’s objectives and commentary about the nature of connection in an alienating culture resonate clearly with the rapt audience.
Performances support the tightly wound script. Kevin Moore as One occasionally overemphasizes his diction as though speaking un-miked from the depths of a proscenium stage but conveys unreasonable obsession with measured fluidity. His verbal over-emphasis reinforces the character’s intense need for acknowledgement. Chad Peterson as the gay porn star Two and Joel McDonald as Three, the man from Two’s past, interact with such easy familiarity and natural calm that when they explode into violence, or promise it, the audience never doubts its valid logic for a moment. It’s a great opener for an ambitious Fringe Fest. Make you think twice about googling yourself.
i google myself , presented by Uncommon Ground at WaterTower Theatre’s out of the loop fringe festival, continues March 8, 12, and
13 at the Studio Theatre. For complete schedule times and info, go to www.watertowertheatre.org/outoftheloop.asp