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THE NETHER Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theatre
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Jan 28, 2018, 11:29
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Through February 11
THE NETHER Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theatre

Each year, the osmotic barrier between the real world and the virtual world erodes a few more atoms and we get closer to merging the two.
At least, that’s what some web enthusiasts believe and clearly so does Jennifer Haley in “The Nether.”
In this look into the future when the internet has become the Nether and the environment has deteriorated so much the trees are gone, there are police probing those who cross over into the Nether, especially those who cross into “The Hideaway.”
It’s a place for pedophiles to live out their desires, from the real world to the unreal world.
It’s run by a guy named Papa and the police want him badly, real world cops seeking Nether leaders.
There’s an obsessed detective Morris (Eve Everette), who lost her father as a “shade” into the virtual world and doesn’t like what’s going on in this hidden “realm” of the Nether.
She brings in Doyle (Dave Marciniak), a much-respected teacher of theoretical physics who is an avid user of the Hideaway with little notice, until Morris grills him about what’s going on.
We also see Morris grill Sims (Steve Jakiel) about the Hideaway, seeking to have the man who created it spill its secrets, especially the location of the file server which runs his refuge for those whose sexual interests are way outside the norm, like pedophilia.
Sims argues the wider society is safer because these truly dangerous individuals are getting their rocks off virtually, instead of on the street.
Director Katie Mallinson and set designer Dyan Burlingame have wedged the story into the Road Less Traveled’s relatively small stage, floor level for the cramped interrogation room and two higher stage levels for events inside The Hideaway.
Papa (Jakiel) runs this world, an avatar for Sims.
We meet Woodnut (Patrick Cameron) and the near-child Iris (Sabrina Kahwaty).
Without ever quite saying so, we know what Woodnut is doing with Iris, under Papa’s careful eye.
Iris is the latest young, very young, woman to service the guys who come into the Hideaway.
It takes a while learn the cross-currents of the two worlds, although it’s a fairly quick tale, a 90-minute, one act play.
With what happens in one world, Morris breaks the other world.
Sims again warns her this puts men with vile habits back in real life, not in the Nether.
It’s one of those questions you can certainly debate, since there are some awful guys out there, truly disturbed people who make the rest of us unsafe.
Mallinson does a nice job of keeping the story moving along swiftly and has some very strong performances from Jakiel and Everette.
“The Nether” is a disturbing and well done production which might make you think deeply about the advantages of letting people move into the virtual world.

A.W.

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