Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Mary-Maria Bourdeau, Tim Funnell, Randy Hughson, Andrea Runge, Nigel Shawn Williams.
It is the reveal of who we are in cyberspace, the change we make to be someone we cannot or should not be, that perhaps defines us; it is one thing to create a persona that others would not recognise if they were to bump into us in the unconscious sphere, it is quite another to let that simulated version of us to do damage, to harm sexually or mentally, another human being with our base and destructive desires.
Jennifer Haley’s The Nether looks at the uncomfortable question of gender, role play and the sheer honesty that some people place within the frankness of harmful sexual thoughts; it is a question that flips itself over several times and as each scene is played out, the feeling of being unnerved, of possible distressing uncertainty in which way you would choose to answer the question.
In a world where the internet has become a God, a divinity that keeps giving answers to which many might find baffling, confusing, damning and the sense of illusion that plays out in such realms as outlined by the cast of Jennifer Haley’s play at the Theatre Aquarius, it is no wonder that the binary numbers become omni-potent, alluring and seductive to those it draws in.
The point of the production is not lost upon the audience and whilst the question of sexuality, of what turns one human on and another completely stone cold is what drives the overall narrative, it must be seen as itself as sub-context to a greater discussion on what the world of the darkness of the human heart and brain may be allowed to experience when viewed in a purely non tangible way.
It is the manipulation of the play’s narrative which makes the 80 minutes in which the audience is submerged into the world of the sexually groomed, albeit in the world of cyber-space, a piece of intriguing theatre, one that its several layers of conversation between Andrea Runge’s Detective Morris and Randy Hughson’s Papa/Sims are destructively brutal and eye opening, a play which dares to be seen in the light and be discussed with frankness. The Nether is a realm in which once you enter, you won’t forget to question.
Ian D. Hall