Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Wirehead": ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ (!)

First off, go see "Wirehead" at SF Playhouse. Then, when you're standing on line for the brain transplant from the Chinese corporation engaged in destroying humanity as we know it while elevating intelligence to unheard of levels so we can create a cigarette that doesn't cause cancer while treating the humans who can't afford the operation as worthless pets so that...oh, hold on.

That's what the show does to you, though. Matthew Benjamin and Logan Brown's "Wirehead" is one of the meatiest, most thought-provoking shows to come along in a long time, and it doesn't hurt that it is hysterically funny too, although it's hard to laugh with your jaw dropping to your knees most of the time.

Scott Coopwood's Shock Jock perches high above the stage and his commentary helps us remember we are in Future World here, although it is not all that far-fetched. Gabriel Marin (Destry) and Craig Marker (Adams) play beautifully off each other, as the befuddled office workers who realize their previously-dense co-worker has just had "the operation" and is now a brilliant genius who is taking over their jobs. The two women in their lives, Monyca (Madeline H.D. Brown) and Laura (Lauren Grace), one ditzy and one overly ambitious, are good too but their roles are less fleshed out.

The show is stolen by Cole Alexander Smith, who plays three roles. In the first of these, as Hammy, the first recipient of the new brain-enhancer, he seems to have re-channeled a young Michael Keaton in Beelzebub. You may not think so in this photo as he sits between Marin and Marker, but that's just because your antiquated human brain/eyeball connection is inadequate in its current configuration.

Give director Susi Damilano the most credit of all: you don't ever feel her little humanoid finger in the production. The show flows along for 90 minutes with no intermission and you are on the edge of your seat the whole way.

I want a new Z-Drive! Die, humans! (Evil cackle.)

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ (!)

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Wirehead" Four Stars with the addition of a possible Exclamation Point. The Four Stars are for writing, direction, acting and the cool music design (Scott Schoenbeck) and set (Bill English). Special thanks for the terrific phone call set piece between Marin and Marker as they begin to realize what is going on around them.

The (exclamation point) is just so this reviewer can get his Z-Drive before Robert Hurwitt gets his. It never hurts to ask.

San Francisco Playhouse
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through April 23

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