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March 30, 2011

Matthew Benjamin and Logan Brown's play Wirehead is about the frontiers of technological advancement.

The play tells of a time in our not-too-distant-future when the entire world is run by a gargantuan Chinese corporation, human strength and intelligence is measured by the amount of silicon a person has in their body, and phones can be turned on and off by sticking a finger in your ear.

Yet for all the banter about human advancement, Wirehead feels like a terrible play written at around the time of the industrial revolution and its ensuing years.

The pot-boiling melodramas of Israel Zangwill (not a name very well known today) came to mind as I watched SF Playhouse's cast earnestly intone Benjamin/Brown's lines. The fears of yesteryear -- of a dangerous man-machine meld that will lead to the destruction of humankind -- are played out in Wirehead in much the same way as they were played out by dramatists concerned with similar issues a hundred years ago. Only this time, with more expletives.

What a waste. SF Playhouse always goes all-out with casting, set design and direction. And this production, snappily helmed by Susi Damilano, slickly designed by Bill English and performed by a top-notch cast including Gabriel Marin, Madeline H D brown, Scott Coopwood, Lauren Grace, Craig Marker and Cole Alexander Smith, is no exception. But it's all for nought when the script is this embarrassingly bad.


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