Hard Wired is a tale about how technology brings people together in the digital age, even if they can’t stand each other in the analog world.
In it, Noel (played by Spencer Faust) and Jesse (Matt Alex) have just had a bad break up and they’re both getting on with life as well as you’d expect. Jesse takes the sanguine approach, his heart on his sleeve as he spirals deep into a cyclone of abandonment issues. Noel withdraws, goes stoic, fails at being stoic, and hides his hurt beneath a thick layer of melancholy. Enter best friend Danni (Jakey Emmert), who’s determined to get everyone back on their feet, and Jesse’s sister Sam (Suzanne Cross), the White Mage of the group who reluctantly picks up the pieces after every fall.
This play tells several stories. Most prominent is probably that of Noel and Jesse. They no longer talk, but they’ve inadvertently fallen for each others’ online dating aliases despite their real world seething. That idea practically writes itself in any good author’s hands, and co-writers Bob Alberti and Susanne Becker come off as great writers in this treatment.
The script gets a further boost from its delivery: Cross, Alex and Faust are all good. Jakey Emmert, though? That guy steals the show. Said theft happens due in part to the giant stage presence concealed beneath his small frame, and in part thanks to his having most of the best lines. I mean, if there’s ever an Ivy Award for most laughs at the most ridiculous lines, he’ll win it. On opening night, on those lines’ inaugural delivery, even he almost laughed at a few of them.
Enough about the people behind the story, though. It’s the story itself that you’re going to see, and this story at its core is a snowball lie getting pushed between four distinct derivatives of Sisyphus, (which makes them Sisyphuses? Sisyphi? You know what, let’s just call them anti-Nihilists,) its form warping as it picks up mass in each of their hands. It’s tightly and smartly crafted, front-loaded with seemingly throwaway gags that come back later as the setups for pivotal pratfalls. It gives each of its four players their own arc—from Sam’s gentle curve to the near full-circle of Danni—and it offers some sincere social commentary in the process.
The play compresses all of this into just under an hour, and that may be its only flaw worth a note: There’s a lot going on, and some of it only comes through in cursory glances. There is easily enough concept and character embedded in this story to fill another thirty minutes or more without running the risk of lull or falter, and after it was done I was left wanting to see more from the creative team who put it all together.
Hard Wired continues at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, on January 9 and 16 at 10pm, and January 14 at 7pm. $12-15 (www.fearlesscomedyproductions.com)