By Beki Pineda
FUTURA. Written by Jordan Harrison; directed by Meridith C. Grundei. Produced by The Catamounts and performed at Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Ave., through April 16. Tickets available at 720-468-0487 or thecatamounts.org.
Futura is a typographical font—clean and lean—created by Paul Renner in 1927 in response to the frilly, serif-ridden fonts then in popular use. This is one of the intriguing facts illustrated in a lecture by The Professor (her first name is Lorraine, but if a last name was mentioned in passing, I missed it) entitled “From Pen to Pixel.” She addresses the history of typography and how it has been influenced by geography, politics and art. It’s a fascinating TED-type talk that could have become a stand-alone play. But several minutes into the lecture, she drops a reference to 2021—our first hint that this class is taking place in the future. We learn obliquely that The Professor’s husband was kidnapped four years ago by agents of the Great Collection. From there on, the evening moves into sci-fi fun.
A few years before, a government-sponsored Orwellian-type organization seized control of the Internet, scanning in every book ever written on the pretext of making all written knowledge available to the masses. After burning all the physical books, the organization allowed ordinary people to “edit” the postings. But soon, only the edits “they” agreed with were allowed to remain in what’s known as the Great Collection. The organization discouraged people from physically writing; paper and pens were no longer manufactured; independent thought was censored and Big Brother reigned. As in any tale of repression, rebels develop their own tactics for survival. Our Professor has dropped several hints of a “zero drive,” which seems to be something that would digitally compromise the Collection. Needless to say, the local band of rebels is very interested in what this could be, and the story develops from there.
Ann Sandoe makes a commanding Professor, bold, unafraid, coldly analytical but with a sense of humor. Her buttoned-down appearance belies the active, humorous mind behind it. The rebels who enter the picture are in various degrees frightening, clueless, honest, courageous and futile. Actors Hallie Schwartz, David French, and Ami Dayan bring this rebel band to life. Telling you more than that would take all the fun out of watching the activities unfold. So no spoilers. It must be said that what starts out as a lecture turns into much more.
All the technical aspects of the show efficiently move the story forward. Special congratulations to Brian Freeland for the illustrative projections that accompany the lecture section of the evening. The set design by M. Curtis Grittner easily moves the action forward and creates the setting for one of the nicest curtain calls I’ve seen.
WOW factor: 8.5