[20000045] Virtual Solitaire

Virtual Solitaire

The Foreign Legion (Cartoons)

2:00pm, Sun 12 Mar 2000

Score: 10

Short Review: Astounding

Once again, Dawson Nichols (responsible for the brilliant I Might Be Edgar Allen Poe last Fringe) has come up with an incredibly compelling piece of theatre. Dwelling on the plight of the Virtual Reality junkie Nathan, who is used as a guinea pig in the development of a VR game, the script introduces a plentitude of virtual characters who all seem to have something to contribute on the topic of isolation & solitary confinement.

Nichols appears on stage, initially as Nathan, complete with VR headset (the only prop of the show). As soon as he is drawn into the virtual world of the game, and its’ creators, he removes the goggles to reveal glowing eyes (great use of mirrored contact lenses!). This was a masterstroke – as he stares into the crowd for the first time, you realise there is something sublimely different, perfectly cultured, about this performance.

And what a performance it is! Nichols ducks and weaves between a myriad of characters (I counted 32), with the fluid VR “transitions” between them revealing his wonderful sense of movement. When glitches occur in the virtual world, Nichols convulses in wonderfully convincing manner – apparently at random, but perfectly scripted.

The script (available for sale at the end of the show… buy! read!) is… well, intense. “Perfect” is another word that springs to mind. All Nichols’ characters are wonderfully used – the beat poet provides gorgeous comic relief, the asylum guard helps display the Real Life history of Nathan, the prisoner on death row reminds us that we’re all, essentially, alone. Not a line is wasted.

In short, go to see this show. Then join me, as we kneel and say: “All hail and praise Dawson Nichols, for he is Great”.

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