This is a new play play in two acts by Matthew Benjamin and Logan Brown. It premiered at the SF Playhouse as a PlayReading, and then was given a full production.
In "Wirehead", the hoopla for the iPad, ShamWow and Snuggie was nothing compared to the furor over the Z-Device. This bright idea for better living, designed by the sinister, China-connected Syntel Corp., acts as Viagra for the mind: The lucky implantee is left with a "Jeopardy" champ's intellect but a crack addict's poise.
It's not about vampires anymore. Or zombies, aliens, mutant viruses or Ionesco's rhinoceroses. The latest sinister force to infest our society and transform our friends, loved ones and enemies right before our eyes isn't something unfamiliar. It's us.
Our technology, that is. In "Wirehead," a Z-Device brain-enhancement implant has just become available and is dividing the world between the artificially "evolved" and the rest of us left-behinds. The play is smart sci-fi crossed with dark, even grisly comedy, dystopian fantasy - is a fast, furious and entertaining nightmare.
From his broadcast booth above the stage, Rip the Nip's motormouth radio shock jock serves as a kind of anti-Greek chorus, commenting on the rapid spread of "this brain steroid" in an unnamed American city, bending phrases like "this Viagra for the mind" with orotund significance. The socio-biological effects of the newly approved implant - developed and marketed by a Chinese corporation - are already being felt in a nearby office.
Adams, the play's dithering anti-hero, and his best friend and co-worker Destry have just been screwed out of an important account by their none-too-bright, rich kid assistant Hammy. One look at hyper-electric Hammy, his mind sparking every which way in a body as loose as his tongue, and it's clear that he's been "wired."
In short order, Adams and Destry have become unlikely Luddite vigilantes, leaving a string of dead "wireheads" in their wake. Destry, in tandem with his pretentious but forthright fashion designer lover, Monyca, is fervently committed to the cause of destroying wireheads. Adams is not.
"Evolve or die" statements raise the specter of unwired humans ending up as zoo exhibits or, at best, pampered pets.
Tensions mount as Adams' position becomes more untenable and the enhanced brains behind the technology develop it in exponential leaps. When the final showdown occurs, the humor-enhanced brain of the viewer may not know whether to laugh or gasp. Try both.
ADAMS: 30S, MBA Account Rep at Syntel Corp, bright but ambivalent.
DESTRY: 30s, MBA Account Rep at Syntel Corp, impulsive, driven, insecure
HAMILTON: 20s, Intern for Syntel Corp, well connected in the company.
RIP THE NIP: 40s, Shock Jock local radio personality
MONYCA: early 30s, hip young artistic designer, edgy, forceful
LAURA: early 30s, wealthy and well-connected young professional, very attractive.