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Ed, Downloaded

If you had ten memories to bring with you for eternity, what would they be?

(Left to right) Grace Rex as Ruby/Marionette, Annie Purcell as Selene, and JD Taylor as Ed
(L to R) Grace Rex as Ruby/Marionette,
Annie Purcell as Selene,
and JD Taylor as Ed
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
According to Michael Mitnick's Ed, Downloaded, future technology will reveal the memories that your brain prioritized. We can't prove this supposition, but the premise is compelling and believable. After all, science fiction has contributed a variety of breakthrough concepts to science, e.g., Jules Verne's submarine and Isaac Asimov's geo-synchronous satellites.

So, take Mitnick's premise and drop it into a love triangle within a culture where profiting at someone else's expense is seen as a worthy pasttime; voilá, memory becomes a commodity to be manipulated and speculated for private gain.

While walking down the street one day, Ed (JD Taylor) and Selene (Annie Purcell) come upon Ruby (Grace Rex), a street artist making a statement as a marionette. Selene, nine years older than Ed, and infinitely more jaded, barely notices; while Ed, still a child at heart, stops, stares, and asks Selene to take a picture of him and the compelling life-size puppet, who speaks to him under her breath.

Intrigued by Ed's guilelessness, Ruby extracts enough contact information to show up at Ed's work (as a docent for the natural history museum).

Annie Purcell as Selene and JD Taylor as Ed
Annie Purcell as Selene
and JD Taylor as Ed
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
Okay: two women in love with the same guy; even if the gender roles were reversed, we've all been there, done that. But it's the life and death circumstances that fuel this dystopic take on a tried and true plot (some contend there are only seven basic plots, so no slight intended).

Dystopia seems to come up a lot these days, as it should, given the ever-increasing transparency of the matrix. SPOILER ALERT: This one is couched in a sci-fi pipe dream: Before he moves on to the afterlife, Ed's brain is downloaded. Given the marketing requirements for turning a profit at providing such a noble service, Ed's "afterlife package" includes the top ten memories. (Undoubtedly, some Google algorithm was involved in the ranking, but that's pure speculation on our part.)

Grace Rex and Ruby/Marionette
Grace Rex and Ruby/Marionette
Photo: Jennifer M Koskinen
Director Sam Buntrock's cast is spot on. Taylor is delightfully quirky as Ed: part child, part geek. Annie Purcell's Selene is calculating and controlling. SPOILER ALERT: As Ruby, the Marionette, Grace Rex steals us away, just like she did with Ed, appealing to our soft-spot for practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty".

Mitnick effortlessly blends comedy and drama, and his writing remains crisp, except perhaps for some angry and furtive sequences in the second act, but the catharsis in all of this is elusive, not unlike last year's premiere of his Elijah, at Boulder's LOCAL Theater Company. The characters are compelling; they just need to be allowed to have a bigger say in how the story plays out.

Charlie I. Miller's multimedia reaches new heights. Just the right mix of effects and editing.

The Denver Center Theatre's presentation of Ed, Downloaded runs through February 17th. For tickets: 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

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