#10. At the dawn of the Internet, my friend Jay fell virtually in love... multiple times. All of his e-relationships ended abruptly usually around the first physical meeting… whether it actually happened or not. I remember one guy claimed to be a US Olympic gymnast alternate. Jay was especially intrigued by this chat room turned cell phone romance. He pushed for a meet up with the fantasy boy. The guy finally agreed to an in-person date. But on the big day, he never arrived. Jay called his cell phone and stalked the chat room. Nothing! Then a few days later, the gymnast virtually reappeared with an elaborate story about a horrific car accident. As the crash was occurring, the gymnast had been calling Jay. The phone was crushed on impact. As the American judge, I gave him -8.6 for an unbelievably clunky dismount.
Collaboraction Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of DARK PLAYS OR STORIES FOR BOYS. Nick and Molly have just had sex. Molly inquires about the scars on Nick’s abdomen. Nick must decide whether to tell her the truth or to ‘make sh#t up.’ Time is suspended as Nick flashbacks to 2004. He’s fourteen. He’s surfing the web pretending to be lonely twin foreign exchange students. He comes across Adam, an earnest guy searching for love. Adam can even describe what love looks like: green eyes, dishwater blonde hair, 5’4-5’8. Nick is intrigued. He responds to Adam’s request as Rachel. His pseudonym matches Adam’s description perfectly. Adam and Rachel fall hard for each other. Adam wants to meet Rachel. And Nick wants to meet Adam. The complications require Nick to add more players into this online game. DARK PLAYS OR STORIES FOR BOYS is a surreal love story that is uncomfortably twisted.
Playwright Carlos Murillo penned a contemporary teenage, computer generated “Crying Game.” The initial setting is a little dated. I don’t know if there are still chat rooms around? But the notion of an online mystique is still current. Murillo creates Nick, a suave college dude with a f#cked up adolescence. Under Director Anthony Mosley, the talented cast is virtually captivating. Clancy McCartney (Nick) is outstanding. McCartney narrates his life story with a cool and wise John Cusack demeanor. As a fourteen year old, McCartney cowers behind his made-up personas. McCartney’s range of emotional turmoil is both tenderly touching and deeply disturbed. The target of his obsession is Aaron Kirby (Adam). An adorable Kirby charms as a clueless victim. Kirby enthusiastically pursues Olivia Dustman (Rachel/Molly). Dustman flirts perfectly as a male fantasy ideal and also a gritty, dorm room reality. This bizarre love triangle has no right angles.
Mosley choreographs it with a high-speed internet connection pace. The talented ensemble zips in and out of past/present and online/real life. McCartney is continually yanked back in time to complete his narration. Sound Designer Stephen Ptacek aids the story with tunnel audio effects to distinguish live chat from live talk. DARK PLAYS OR STORIES FOR BOYS captivates with what it’s saying and how it’s saying it. I walked away amazed and dazed. And I’m not making sh#t up! This dark comedy will make me question how well I know that guy online or in my bed.
Seeing multiple victims in this haunting tale, Rick describes it with ‘disturbing, funny, tragic.’
Production photograph courtesy of Cesar Moza.
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Collaboration at the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee
Written by Carlos Murillo
Directed by Anthony Mosley
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 7pm
EXTENDED THRU MARCH 11th
Buy Tickets at www.collaboraction.org