Need to Know Review - Is a Little Knowledge a Dangerous Thing?

 

Privacy has become paramount in a world inundated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a host of electronic connections that feed on exposing secrets. NEED TO KNOW, by Jonathan Caren, explores just how much information is readily available in today’s world with only a few taps of the finger and how that information may impact relationships. Google-stalking is so easy and can reveal so much. Are any of us safe from cyber “over” exposure in this day and age?

 

 

 

When Steven (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) and his girlfriend Lilly (Corryn Cummins) move into their new apartment, they befriend their nerdy neighbor Mark (Tim Cummings), who has lived in the next-door apartment for 14 years. All three find some common ground around their hopes for artistic success - Steven as a visual artist, Lilly as a novelist with some early but not recent success, and Mark as an aspiring young adult novelist hoping to get published for the first time with his alien thriller, “Deformed.” Initially, the talented couple is quick to find humor in Mark’s peculiar novel-writing attempts. As details unfold, the new friendships become more than just awkward. Suddenly, the boundaries between fantasy and reality begin to blur - leading to both frightening and amusing consequences. Little do Steven and Lilly suspect that their personal conversations and intimate moments just might filter through the thin wall between their apartments - and they could never have guessed what repercussions might result from that simple faux pas. Twist after twist keeps the audience on their toes as physical and cyber space become one. 

 

 

 

Need To Know is a play for the 21st Century with some subtle and not-so-subtle gaffes at society’s perpetual attachment to cell phones, lap tops, social media, and Googling. Additionally, some hysterical but sobering questions are raised about privacy - or the lack thereof - in today’s world. Playwright Jonathan Caren brilliantly blends funny and frightening with serious topical concerns. Director Bart DeLorenzo adroitly helms the production by allowing his cast to find and convey the perfect balance of laughter and gravitas. The three principals have a keen grasp on their character’s nuances and conflicts. The production offers a clever set design (Stephanie Kerley Schwartz), believable contemporary costumes (E. B. Brooks), spot-on lighting (Chu-Hsuan Chang) and crisp sound (John Zalewski), all of which enhance the play’s themes. Above all, the laughter from the audience confirms that they “get it” and are probably more familiar with this situation than they had realized. Perhaps the only shortcoming of this play is its focus on today’s younger generation with its near-obsession with electronic communication. However, regardless of age, for anyone who is computer literate, the point will hit home.

 

 

 

NEED TO KNOW runs Saturdays at 5 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., and Mondays at 8 p.m. through December 13, 2015 (no performance November 16). Rogue Machine is located at 5041 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019. Tickets are $30-$35 and can be reserved by calling 855-585-5185 or online at www.roguemachinetheatre.com.

 

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