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Art Imitating (Digital) Life

I don't usually play theater critic on this blog, but I had a thought-provoking Saturday evening last weekend watching a set of three short plays, called "This Digital Life: BASIC Instructions for Coping with the 21st Century".

Tomorrow afternoon, that show -- part of this year's Capital Fringe Festival -- has its last showing, and if a) you'll be in D.C. then, and b) you've devoted processor cycles to wondering about your Internet identity, you might appreciate it.

The presentation starts out with the live image of a Web browser projected on a screen behind the stage, followed by a Gmail message addressed to the audience, inviting us to text in their suggestions of what should be displayed next. On Saturday, that resulted in us being treated to the predictable (OK Go's "Here It Goes Again" treadmills video) and the odd ("Sleeping dog 2 part 1") off YouTube.

The show itself consisted of three short plays. The first two felt like 0.7 releases, mixing in some funny lines and thought-provoking comments with a few where-are-they-going-with-this moments. In one, a woman walks in on a man's online infidelity (it's not a moment the squeamish will enjoy), and an argument breaks out--or does it? In the other, two guys strive to find a way to win Internet fame by not being so derivative in their YouTube videos. (The most revealing moments come in a live IM chat between the two; the emotion is expressed in the glowing text projected on a screen behind them, instead of on the faces of the actors slouched behind their computers.)

The payoff comes in the third play, an alternately funny and painful, more fully realized work (consider it a 0.9 release). A couple debate over whether they're doing everything possible to secure their unborn child's digital future. Baby Einstein purchases are the least of it. At one point, the man logs into Google Documents to show off a "Naming 2.0" spreadsheet of possible baby names -- ranked by such criteria as the availability of matching .com, .net and .org domain names. But they learn that they and their kid have much more serious things to worry about than picking the right Gmail user name.

Tomorrow's closing production of "This Digital Life" -- written by Joseph Price, directed by Kris Mekolsky -- is at 2:30 in the afternoon at the Goethe Institut, around the corner from the MCI Center Verizon Center Phone Booth at 812 7th Street NW. For another perspective, here's DCist's review.

If you caught "This Digital Life" last weekend, what did you think of it?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 27, 2007; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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I saw this one on Saturday night. If I would have known you were there, I would have chatted you up... I enjoyed it - it wasn't too heavy like some of the other fringe plays. The first one definitely felt like it had a lot less substance than the other two. Did you stay for the Q&A? I liked how one of the characters had a homestar runner shirt on - that seemed to be a little in-joke.

Posted by: 20007 | July 27, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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