It is indicative of our age that the notion of downloading and digitizing human memories directly from someone’s brain doesn’t sound entirely far-fetched.
By the end of his play “Ed, Downloaded,” now in its Seattle premiere at Washington Ensemble Theatre, author Michael Mitnick hasn’t done much to convince you such a thing is possible. Yet.
The core concept of this quirky sci-fi tale about memory as romantic crypt, is fuzzy yet intriguing. And at its liveliest the WET folks have translated the gimmicky script into a flashy-cool live/video venture.
But Metnick houses his futuristic concept in a plot motif as old as dust: The standard love triangle, with the sweet, schleppy nerd Ed (Noah Benezra), a guide at a geological museum, as the love object of two opposing female caricatures.
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Selene (Gin Hammond), older than Ed and his fiancé, is the smothering mother figure who fusses and henpecks. Ruby (charmer Adria LaMorticella) is the gamin street artist who beguiles Ed with her whimsical, sexy spontaneity.
Ed’s passivity, and Benezra’s sluggish portrayal, make you wonder why the title character is such a hot commodity. Maybe he just needs to be irresistible, and (that other handy trope) dying from an incurable disease, for the plot to boot up.
You see, Selene toils in a “forevertery,” where the living pay to download their memories and choose favorites to access in the afterlife. (The religious implications of believing there is an afterlife are of no matter here.)
When Selene realizes Ed has been cheating with Ruby, she busts into his Memory Box to find … wait a minute! That gal he’s hiking, laughing, canoodling with in those fave flashbacks? Not Selene.
Aces at making big effects with tiny budgets, director Ali el-Gasseir and the WET team conjure a swell forevertery with plexiglass, flashing colored lights, sound effects, video. As Selene frantically tries to revise and subvert Ed’s memory clips, we’re treated to a whirring, clanging, strobing freak-out of fast forwards and re-edits.
But we end up with a pile of contrivance, and the acrid aftertaste of another Hell-hath-no-fury catfight. The finale is especially cruel to Hammond’s shrewish but devoted “cougar” Selene — whose high-tech revenge is not so sweet.
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org