Theater Review: Futura Is Now
"That's not writing," Truman Capote once complained about another popular author's book, "it's typing." Well, in Jordan Harrison's new play, Futura, set 35 years from now, typing is all there is. Paper has been made obsolete by the pixelated screen, and no one knows how to manipulate a pen or pencil. All available information and knowledge are stored in a central database maintained by an omnipotent syndicate known as The Company. Wisdom and insight are obscured by readers' freely shared annotations and comments.
The play opens with a half hour-long lecture explaining how the world got to this point, delivered by a nameless Professor (Bonita Friedericy) in front of a wall-sized interactive display screen. Initially an academic talk on the history of fonts and written communication, the Professor also tells us that her husband, an outspoken critic of The Company, was abducted and never seen again after he mobilized resistance to the eradication of writing and the digital centralization of textual discourse. Then, once her own talk has strayed a bit too far into threatening territory, the Professor herself suddenly disappears, and next thing we know she's being held blindfolded and strapped to a chair in an undisclosed location. Her captors are two young armed guards (Edward Tournier and Zarah Mahler)--who threaten to kill her unless she leads them to the "zero drive," a massive cache of written material still uncorrupted by The Company's all-engulfing Wikipediazation, which only she knows where to find--and their leader Edward (Bob McCracken).