Futura Bans the Book

NAATCO stages Jordan Harrison's dystopia

Recalling Fahrenheit 451 and middlebrow Op-Ed fare like Yasmina Reza's Art, Jordan Harrison's Futura imagines a near future in which an omniscient organization called "The Company" has outlawed books and paper in favor of "The Collection," a post-apocalyptic version of Google Books. (Among the play's half-baked conceits is that privacy no longer exists since nobody's allowed to write longhand.) One-third of this NAATCO show, directed by Liz Diamond, consists of a very entertaining "lecture" by Professor Lorraine Wexler (Mia Katigbak) on the history of typography, assisted by clever video projections (realized by Tal Yarden). Then Wexler is abducted by a mysterious gang for mentioning the "Zero Drive," an archive that would restore all forbidden knowledge, and imprisoned in what sounds like a script stolen from the Wachowski Brothers' Dumpster.

Long pseudo-intellectual arguments and kiss-off lines traded with quasi-terrorists follow, as well as a murder without consequences. After the intelligence and charm of the first bit, the mountain of received ideas upon which Harrison builds his story turns the proceedings into pure silliness. In the hackneyed final scene, Wexler patiently teaches the neophyte among the kidnappers, Gash (anime escapee Christopher Larkin), how to hold a pen, thereby securing the future of handwriting and by extension, supposedly, the world.

 
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