The Nether | A Red Orchid Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through March 13 2017
Price: $30-$35
As people increasingly pay attention to screens instead of the physical world, I hope Jennifer Haley’s staggering script will rally more playwrights to engage virtual reality through theater. In A Red Orchid’s production, a shadowy corporation called the Nether has enabled users to fulfill their fantasies in hyperrealistic digital “realms” without fear of consequence. Reclusive Web developer Sims (Guy Van Swearingen) is under arrest at the Nether for encouraging pedophilia in his private, quaintly Victorian paradise, the Hideaway. What plays out, in half the scenes, between plugged-in avatars at the Hideaway and, in the other half, between their human counterparts in Sims's interrogation chamber blurs all the boundaries between appearance and reality, questioning the effectiveness of laws when people live in a disembodied existence. Directed by A Red Orchid ensemble member Karen Kessler, the show is impeccably staged, and all of the performances are deeply moving. —Max Maller



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