by David Lally · August 5, 2014
Cast Photo | Courtesy of Ming Peiffer
Social media has completely changed the way we live and communicate. And in its wake has cropped up a completely new set of problems; diseases, social ills and insights into the human condition.
What could be a tough topic to cover (after all, where do you START?) is made easier with Spookfish Theatre Company’s production of i wrote on ur wall and now I regret it. So close your computer, pull out your iPhone and set your GPS to East 3rd Street and get to the beautifully renovated The Wild Project space to see this play.
The show starts with a warning to leave your cell phone on because “…The Creative Team Is Aware Of-Of-Of Your Need To Remain Connected Your Need To Remain Plugged In Your Need To Remain Turned ON The Creative Team Is Aware Of-Of-Of Your Need To UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE Your Need to UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE Your Need To UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
And Believe Us That Level of Agitation Is Not Worth Sustaining For The Mere Purposes Of Consuming This Play”. This is not your typical evening at the theatre.
Every once in a while a playwright emerges with a voice so distinct and clear you wonder how the playwriting world succeeded without them. Ming Peiffer is the Co-Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of Spookfish Theatre Company and a current MFA Playwriting Candidate at Columbia University. Keep your eye on her. Teamed with Co-Artistic Director/Director Kat Yen, they are a force to be reckoned with.
What I especially liked about the writing was that it wasn’t slanted towards only a female point of view. Whether capturing two women chatting about dating on the internet, or two men in an interview about an artist’s inspirations, Peiffer writes knowledgeably about both male and female interactions. It’s completely refreshing. There are no angry females here. There are angry, confused, happy, sad, conflicted human beings. For a play that talks a lot about social connection and more importantly, the disconnection it causes, the lack of feeling and the alienation of the human being, the characters that appear before us, whether online or in the flesh are real, living and breathing entities crying out to be heard in an ever expanding, overwhelming and oversaturated environment. It’s enough to make you want to live off the grid.
But a play can’t succeed on words alone. These words are brought to life by a perfect ensemble cast. Jaspal Binning, Ryan Dreyer, Karen Eilbacher, David M. Farrington, Ricky Faust, Andrea Goldman, Jordan Ho, Ying Ying Li, and Stephanie Regina are a group of performers that work so well together I can’t in all honesty single any one of them out. Every actor distinctly embodies every character they inhabit. In a series of scenes, some that recur through the play, others that do not and some that are just blackouts, the play touches on almost every subject in social media. Our need to be liked, our need to be validated by a “like”, our desperate need to connect with other people as we sit alone in front of our computer, iPhone, iPad or other electronic device, online dating, blogs, catfishing. It’s all here. Some of the material is comedic, some dramatic, some heartbreaking. Whatever the mood, Peiffer is able to shift gears quickly and effectively.
What I would have thought was an obstacle in the first scene becomes one of the highlights of the show. Characters speak in the language of the internet. “I.D.K.” “LOL” and “dot dot dot” commonly pop up. What could be confusing – differentiating computer speak with actual dialogue between characters – is handled quite effectively.
The playwright even “goes there” into the danger zones of the internet. What could be an ultimately creepy scene about an internet predator who traps his young victim then ultimately becomes trapped by his young victim, becomes a tale of heartbreak, loneliness, fear and loathing. When you find yourself sympathizing with the pedophile, you know the playwright has succeeded in getting you to look at the issues from all sides.
The lighting design by Porsche McGovern and sound design by Daniela Hart do much to enhance this world of connection and disconnection.
Go see i wrote on ur wall and now I regret it. Trust me, you won’t.