We have come to rely on the internet so much that we use it for everything, including our deepest and darkest desires. It’s what Red Turnip Theater explores with The Nether, a compelling and cerebral show that examines the depths we go to just to fulfill our carnal passions. It also raises the question: if it only happens online, does it make it okay?
The Nether is a sci-fi crime drama set in the distant future, one where the internet has evolved into the Nether, an incredible network of virtual reality realms. Detective Morris is investigating the Hideaway, a realm where men indulge in their predilection for children, while grappling with the moral consequences of expressing this virtually.
The play was developed by Jennifer Haley in 2013, and was staged in various productions in the US and the West End. It was awarded the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the New York Times called it “very cunning and equally creepy.” Now, Filipinos can also enter the Nether though its Asian premiere with Red Turnip, a company known for producing award-winning, thought-provoking, and intelligent straight plays.
The Nether comes at a perfect time. Now that technology is part of our lives, it raises the question of accountability of our online actions. While not many of us share the preferences of the characters in the play, we have seen how last year’s presidential elections transformed people (including people we know) into monsters. Of course, politics could be the last reason why Red Turnip chose to stage this play, but it raises excellent questions about morality.
Ana Abad Santos directs the Asian premiere of The Nether, and gathers an impressive cast, a diverse group of talented actors who successfully bring the characters to life, both in the virtual world and in the “real world.” There’s Jenny Jamora as Detective Morris, a hard-talking yet vulnerable woman with beautiful hair. She is joined by the legendary Bernardo Bernardo as Sims and Papa, the supposed ringleader of the Hideaway; Bodjie Pascua as Doyle, the “whistleblower”; TJ Trinidad as Woodnut, a quiet and elegant new client; and Alba Berenguer-Testa and Junyka Santarin as Iris, one of the girls in the Hideaway.
The Nether is a complex and layered story that beautifully unravels as the play goes on. It is a perfect representation of the current state of the internet: not everything is what it seems, and you need to look deeper in order to understand the rules. Most importantly: you need to brace yourself for the horrors you will find.
The Nether opened March 10 and will run all weekends until April 9. Tickets are available at www.ticketworld.com.ph or www.redturnip.com.ph. It is staged at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Theater at Circuit, Makati. For more information, visit Red Turnip Theater on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.