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Poor 39. Named for finishing last in the space training program, he still ends up on a six-year mission to Colony 1. The voyage is a disaster and 39 is the sole survivor. Worse, while 39 was in deep space, a terrible war between competing mega-corporations wipes out more than half of humanity and smart machines take over. Rather than plugging the survivors into Matrix-style energy pods, the machines insert a gland behind the brain stem to pacify the humans. Science fiction is a genre live theater generally stays away from, but the play’s author and actor Andrew Woolner successfully uses poetic and scientific language, sound effects, and video slides to draw the audience into a future after singularity, the theoretical moment when technological advancement occurs so quickly it renders the entire Earth environment unrecognizable. The science is dense and the narrative deliberately jumps around, but Woolner is able to keep returning to the story’s emotional core about loss, confusion and alienation. The character 39 becomes the proverbial last man defending the right to be imperfectly human in a post-human world. That Woolner successfully uses all the skills of voice, movement and language in acting to help navigate the audience through this alien world proves that proves science fiction can still be damn good theatre.

Four stars out of five.

more in Fringe Reviews     |     posted Aug 13th, 2010 at 11:10am     

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