Entangled in the dangerous web of the technological world one can lose their identity, their personal memories and lose touch with the physical world around them. These and many others are the scenarios currently being played out in the world premiere of Matthew McCray’s Eternal Thou at the Atwater Village Theatre. McCray has created a theater piece that combines Movement Theater, drama and technology to present the inner workings of the Internet.
Sarah Kranin has designed a stunning and captivating set, that all sits behind a black scrim. The scrim may add a separation between the audience and the actors that make it more like watching a film then live theater, however it also adds an effective level to the Internet themed performance. Today we spend most of our lives watching or interacting with something behind a screen, so the scrim fits perfectly with the message McCray is trying to portray. To the side stand a white “tree” which are the wires of the world wide web, and the web part is emphasized with the plastic tubes that cascade from the tree, and throughout the play they are used to entangle and trap the actors within the internet.
A kaleidoscope of the history of the Internet is what this performance ends up being. However, this performance piece is not for everyone. The running time is long, several episodes could be truncated without losing the overall impact of McCray’s theme. There is no real dramatic arch to this piece even though the cast tries their hardest to make the show work.
McCray has attempted the huge feat of bringing to life the network that the world now revolves around. However, he did not exactly succeed, though this piece is intriguing and is sure to be a conversation starter, the work itself needs a little more attention. Potential does exist within the jumbled, meshed together material, it just needs to be untangled from the parts of the piece that seem to have little importance to the wok’s entirety. Watching this piece is much like late night surfing on the web, where after an hour, you’re not even sure what you’re looking at anymore. With a little more focus and a clearer message, McCray’s dynamically presented piece could put forth an intense look at the technology that has changed the world.