For a century, especially the past half-century, the popularity of fantasy and science fiction has grown exponentially because it fired and freed people’s imagination. But in the past three decades, the evolution of technology has enabled such flights to become ever more enveloping: beginning with text-based chat rooms to on-line role-playing games to current headsets that plunge you into 3-D virtual reality worlds.
But like the responsibilities discovered with development of atomic energy because no one thought it out beforehand, technological advances bring with them moral dilemmas, philosophical quandaries and ethical issues.
The Nether, Jennifer Haley’s acclaimed play given an impressive outing at Area Stage Company, posits today’s hedonistic urges catered to by the Internet and takes that paradigm to a logical extremity in the near future. In doing so, Haley and the Miami-based troupe raise questions we should be asking about the dangers of what we have wrought and whether being able to do something means we ought to do it. Haley and Area Stage don’t answer questions, but they ask ones that patrons should mull for a long time to come.