Refrigerator is a chilling look into the near future | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Refrigerator is a chilling look into the near future 

Playwright Lucas Baisch imagines a world when we'll all be fighting to be uploaded to the cloud.

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Evan Hanover

First Floor Theater artistic director Hutch Pimentel directs the world premiere of Lucas Baisch's righteously nightmarish drama of office politics at the end of the world.

In the near future, natural resources are at a premium, and the vast majority of humanity has apparently chosen to give up on meat space in favor of a cloud-based and purportedly eternal existence. But at Icebox-one of the companies that helps customers transition-some employees suspect someone's got a thumb on the scale.

As Benjamin, the only white male in the office, is about to ascend, his coworkers take turns airing grievances, offering him congratulations, sneaking in final furtive trysts, and wondering aloud about the injustices of their respective fates.

Baisch's play moves nimbly from comedy to splatter horror to rom-com to tragedy and back again. William Boles's set is reminiscent of a grubbier and less steampunk version of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Each cast member has transcendent moments, with Shariba Rivers as the coldhearted, pragmatic Mitchell a particular standout.

My one quibble is that by naming each of his characters after a major philosopher or art historian—Roland (Barthes), (W.J.T.) Mitchell, (Linda) Nochlin, et al—Baisch has stacked the deck in a bid for a gravitas his work has already earned under its own steam.

This is an angry and timely piece of theater about the precarious state of our imminent future. No academic's obtuse theorizing is required for a deep recognition of the point.   v

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