Adams (Craig Marker) with Hammy/Hamilton (Cole Alexander Smith) and Destry (Gabriel Marin) negotiate once they discover he is a Wirehead.

WIREHEAD: Dark comedy. By Matt Benjamin and Logan Brown. Directed by Susi Damilano. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco. (415) 677-9596 or www.sfplayhouse.org. Through April 23, 2011


SF Playhouse is well known for often mounting edgy, sinister drama that keep you on the edge of your seat but often with a dollop of cutting edge technology to stimulate your thinking. When they do so, they often have a terrific set that allows the action to flow smoothly. They have done it again with Wirehead a futuristic improbable look at what could happen if science is able to fuse electronic circuits into the skull creating, as one character blurts out, “It’s like Viagra for the brain!”

In Wirehead, set in the future, there has been an exponential growth in technology and the world has reached the stage where science has the ability to implant an expensive device into the brain thus creating a “super thinker” with unlimited intellectual ability. The new FDA approved implant, made and sold by the Chinese of course, is in limited production and extremely expensive. Adams (Craig Marker), the play's conscience, and his best friend and co-worker Destry (Gabe Marin), have lost a valuable account to the boss’s idiot son Hammy (Cole Alexander Smith). When they encounter Hammy, who now insists his name is Hamilton, it obvious he has the implant. Impetuous Destry does a dastardly deed of removing Hammy’s, sorry Hamilton’s implant as the beginning of ridding the world of “artificial intelligence” even though it is something a luddite might do. With Destry riding herd and Adam a reluctant follower, the grisly doings are compounded. It is not for the faint-hearted to witness.

There has to be a love interest provided by Destry’s fashion designer lover Monyca (Madeline H.D. Brown) who prefers her named to be pounced Mon-e-Ca. She joins forces with Destry. Adams’ love for his fiancee Laura (Lauren Grace) is so great that he is willing risk his life for an implant even though he does not qualify to receive one. Laura believes, and her father concurs, Adams and Laura would live a life of intellectual bliss if the both were implanted. That bit of conflict leads to a harrowing scene with the audience almost jumping out of their seats.

The authors have begot a ribald, foul-mouthed Greek chorus of one in the form of Rip ( Scott Coopwood)a radio disc jockey, sitting in a booth above center stage, broadcasting comments and those of his radio audience throughout the show. They may be, nay they are gross, but that does not preclude them form being politically prophetic.

Craig Marker and Gabe Marin are the stars of the show (and they are great) but Cole Alexander Smith almost steals the show with his three character roles. It is fun to witness his change from Hammy/Hamilton, to multi-million dollar quiz show winner Jeremiah (he cheats because he has an implant) and as a doctor. Ninety percent of the mayhem is inflicted on him. Madeline Brown gets her chance to emote and does so competently. Lauren Grace has an unenviable role as a sounding board.

Susi Damilano’s tongue-in-cheek direction is laudably well balanced, fluctuating from eye-popping horror, farcical action to semi-serious moments to emphasize the seriousness of what could be in a technologically advance society. Bill English’s fantastic curved stainless steel moveable set allows her freedom to adroitly move the characters about the stage keeping the action flowing for the full 90 minutes of running time.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com