Playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger is a gift to the theater community in general and to the Philly theater community in particular. Her gift transcends her awards (Yale Drama Prize and Barrymore Award among others). It is her ability to smartly examine society from a human point of view. Her new play Click is another play that can examine, raise consciousness, and entertain.
Director Adrienne Mackey of Simpatico Theatre offers a riveting production of this new “fresh” play. According to Emily Wanamaker’s dramaturgical notes, Click addresses “the nature of consent, friendship, technology, and love.” It is a lot to cover in a spare 100 minutes, but the playwright fills it with insights into the minds of the principles. The story is one of a college freshman Fresh who gets drunk and raped by multiple men. The incident is video recorded by senior Chaz who then submits it to social media where it goes viral. Both lives are destroyed. Fresh decides with the help of her friend Maria and the inspiration of Millais painting of Ophelia to fake her own death. As a result of her death, Chaz is prosecuted for dispensing child pornography since Fresh was under 18.
Through the conflict is the character of Anna Carlisle the face of Carlisle Industries, the world’s largest online seller of both technology and image shaping products. She represents the cold unfeeling corporate world that improves technology solely for profit. They are unabashedly amoral. In the play they are the overarching enemy that thoughtlessly affects lives for both good and evil but without any distinction between the two.
The play jumps five years and Fresh with the help of her friend Maria has become an underground graffiti artist and social media hacker. She has targeted the Carlisle Corporation specifically. In addition, Chaz has served his jail sentence and is trying with little success to gain employment with the stigma of dealing in child porn.
At this point both Fresh and Chaz are trying to regain their interrupted lives. Playwright and director collaborate to make this process both difficult and realistic. Both characters are susceptible to human frailty. One character may have the moral high ground, but they both sell out to gain revenge.
As Fresh, Lexi Greene engages the audience in her pain and sense of betrayal. Her character is not perfect, but she is consumed with her revenge. Joe Falcone as the solipsistic Chaz is spot on. We want to feel badly for his situation, but his abrasive personality makes him seem incapable of learning from his mistakes. Maria is performed by David Tibbs. She is incredibly loving and loyal to Fresh. She is Fresh’s voice of reason. As Scottie Aaron Shaw is a foil for Chaz. He is loyal to his friend even when he shunned by society. As Anna Carlisle, Rupal Pujara is a new, modern form of evil. She does an incredible job demonstrating the heartlessness of her character and all like companies.
Goldfinger adds a Greek chorus that helps the audience see the fallout of the main characters’ words and actions. They are played professionally by Abby Morris, Bryce Menard, Carmen Camacho Luther, Daniel Burgess, Deanna Pereira, and Ke’Vondrea McKinney. They manage to capture both the “crowd think” and the individuality of their characters.
Sara Outings set is effective in its simplicity. It is both elegant and functional. Abby Schlackman as Lighting Designer complements it perfectly. Costumes and makeup by Gina Collaci help give the set a time and place and Pax Ressler’s compositions and sound contributes to the overall picture that the playwright and director require. Click plays until April 14th at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake Hotel. It is not only wonderful theater, it is also a great thought-provoking experience. As Fresh tells us today it is all about the click, but after the click there is no sound. For reservations and information visit Simpatico’s website.