In this futuristic thriller, the printed word is outlawed.
Mon Nov 1 2010
Photograph: William P. Steele
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Most futuristic, dystopian thrillers don't, of course, make a lick of sense. Either they depend on totalitarian states more perfectly organized than anything ever created by humans, or they ask us to believe Tina Turner would run death matches in a world without hair product. Droogs, please. But few so completely undermine their own premise as does Jordan Harrison's brisk-and-breezy prognosticative drama Futura, in which text on paper has been forbidden in favor of the online word. According to Harrison's reasoning, in a penmanship-bereft future, hand muscles atrophy. These people don't squeeze melons?
Happily, Harrison's plot holes start yawning only after we have already grown fond of the play's harried typography professor (Katigbak), whose font expertise has made her a target of our Google-ish overlords. Couple that affection with a delightfully polished physical production—one of David Evans Morris's set changes made me burst into mental applause—and Futura has no trouble making its mark.
For the first, enormously appealing section, Katigbak treats us like students, lecturing on print from Gutenberg to her Fahrenheit 451--like present day. Katigbak's stern affect serves her well; in seasons past, she has terrified us as both Creon and Mother Courage, so no wonder she overwhelms the terrorists who eventually swarm out to kidnap her. In their camp, we meet other actors, and while director Liz Diamond has gotten wonderful work from her designers, she has left her non-Katigbaks (notably Edward A. Hajj as the underground's mastermind) seriously adrift. Harrison too lacks follow-through, since after some smartly written mayhem, his script peters out. Still, the production leaves you with a sense of warmth and fun—not to mention a gnawing guilt about the e-reader in your purse.
TBG Theatre. By Jordan Harrison. Dir. Liz Diamond. With Mia Katigbak. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.