Death Did Not Part Them, and Some People Don’t Like It
‘Two Point Oh,’ Starring Jack Noseworthy as an Avatar
By ANDY WEBSTER
Published: October 14, 2013
There was an enjoyable thriller in 1970 called “Colossus: The Forbin Project,” in which a monolithic United States military computer system unites with its Soviet counterpart to commit nuclear blackmail and conquer the world. Today, of course, schoolchildren hold computers in their palms, and so we have Jeffrey Jackson’s smart, provocative and often funny play “Two Point Oh,” a delightful production from the troupe Active Theater, which puts a human face on global software despotism.
Elliot Leeds (Jack Noseworthy) is the Bill Gates-like leader of Paradigm, a software multinational, who dies when his private plane crashes into the South Pacific en route to a Group of 8 meeting in Japan. His wife, Melanie (Karron Graves), is mourning his death in their home — a Xanadu near Los Altos, Calif., outfitted with cutting-edge technology — when she receives a message from Elliott revealing one of his last projects: a program bearing all his intellectual properties, if not his human body (his “hardware”). The despondent Melanie welcomes his presence.
This Elliot can hack into any cellphone, television or security network, even visit two places simultaneously; to protect his existence, he has his digital finger on a nuclear device. Elliot’s No. 2 at Paradigm, Ben Robbins (James Ludwig), is not only disgusted by the disembodied Elliot, but has also long coveted Melanie. His outrage is exceeded only by that of Catherine Powell (Antoinette LaVecchia), Paradigm’s chief executive (“He’s God,” she says of Elliot, “he’s Godzilla”), who appears on a TV show with a smarmy host (Michael Sean McGuinness) to rebut rumors that the wizard has been resurrected.
The production, buoyantly directed by Michael Unger, has crack technical contributions, including a digital wall from the scenic designer, Kris Stone, and David Bengali’s projections, which enable Mr. Noseworthy, on a huge monitor, to interact with other actors via a live video feed from offstage. Mr. Noseworthy himself is a fascinating blend of boyish charm and blindered techno-fanaticism. But the show’s beating heart is Ms. Graves, who reminds us that technological wonders can never approach the warmth of human performance.