Last December, the Waterwell theater company posted an uproarious YouTube video, in which they gathered dozens of downtown luminaries, all insisting, “Don’t give Waterwell money.” (Among the cited reasons: “Waterwell doesn’t believe that 9/11 actually happened” and “The other day I saw them stepping on kittens.”) Perhaps that happy experience with the Internet led them to #9 (their ninth show), a music-theater piece that examines the changes the Web has wrought.
Conceived by performers Hanna Cheek, Matt Dellapina, David Ryan Smith, and Kevin Townley, and directed by Tom Ridgely, #9 uses scenes and songs to document its cast’s computerized lives. Each actor relies on the Web for different purposes: Cheek opens a Facebook account; Townley types a dating blog; Dellapina, an expectant dad, Googles “baby”; and Smith creates a page to mourn his recently deceased father. Though funny and clever—and featuring a quartet of fearless performances—#9, like the majority of online content, could use some editing. In the way of much devised theater, individual moments delight, but don’t coalesce—it’s theater as BitTorrent. Most songs need better integration into the text, and some ought to be cut altogether. (I’d nominate the incongruous biblical number.) Still, Off-Off-Broadway’s a better place with Waterwell online.