by Richard Hinojosa · August 13, 2014
The Internet!: A Complete History (Abridged) is LOL funny on its surface and somewhat educational at its core. I certainly left the theatre knowing a little more about the development of the internet as we know it today. It was fascinating to learn that the first streaming web cam was created to monitor a coffee pot that was “too far” to check on physically. To quote the playwrights, Kristyn Pomranz and Katherine Steinberg, “Laziness is truly that spark of invention.” I also discovered that the term “spam” was taken from a Monty Python sketch.
However, I don’t believe that the playwrights’ intention was to educate, but rather to make the audience laugh and in that, they definitely succeed! This one is a gut buster.
The show opens with Al Gore describing how he “invented the internet.” He’s going to explain it all to us with the help of some friends and a cast member planted in the audience. At first, the show is a bit of a slow burn as it introduces the various historical characters involved with creating the internet. These folks are unknown to most people and the text becomes a little information-heavy. The bits that they create to animate the stories of these people are funny but I did not relate to them as much as I related to the bits about the more recent history of the internet such as the emergence of chat rooms and AOL.
The second half of the play really pops as it brings us into modern times. The scene in which Napster and Pandora copulate to bear Spotify is hilarious! Later, Facebook throws a party and invites all the other social networks only to find that losers like LinkedIn show up, Twitter is wired on loads of cocaine, and Pintrest is too cool to be there. The biggest hit of the evening is brilliant song and dance number about memes that borrows the melody for Billy Joel’s "We Didn’t Start the Fire."
Pomranz and Steinberg make a great writing team. The dialogue is crisp and hilarious. They make good use of pop culture hits and they put a little polish on every sketch. Their director, Paul Morris, drives a very fast pace. The show is relentless and the zany, exaggerated style of performance is well balanced throughout the cast. Led by Benjamin Drew Thompson as Al Gore, the cast, Callie Rose Hanau, Timothy Thompson and Adam Wennick, is second to none. I was very impressed with their total dedication to the moment. It takes a talented and confidence cast to pull off a show like this. They switch characters or scenes so fast that sometimes I found myself still thinking about the last bit after they’ve already moved on. They are unafraid, risk-taking performers who push the show to the highest level.
The Internet!: A Complete History (Abridged) is just what you want from a fringe show. It’s raw, funny, topical and extremely entertaining. It’s definitely a highlight of my Fringe NYC experience this year.