Although he’s dead, Elliot Leeds is living a virtually perfect life – his marriage better than it has been in years, his cutting-edge company worth $200 billion with 111,000 employees. He owes it to technology. “Technology isn’t good or bad,” Leeds says. “Technology is us.”
In his case, this is literally true; he is technology. In “Two Point Oh,” the smart and funny play by Jeffrey Jackson, Eliot Leeds died in a plane crash but lives on in cyberspace because of a computer program he had spent years writing that replicates his brain and his personality.
Leeds, the visionary founder of Paradigm (which seems to be a Microsoft-like company that’s Google-cool), is portrayed to perfection by Jack Noseworthy performing entirely on a screen.
The screen Leeds persuades his wife Melanie (stand-out Karron Graves) that their relationship will now improve. “I can read to you! I know all your favorite books and poems by heart plus the complete works of William Shakespeare….I’ll never have to leave you again.”
They decide to start a family.
This doesn’t sit well with Ben (an often funny James Ludwig), his friend since college and the co-founder of the company, who’s long been secretly in love with Melanie. The virtual Elliot tries to win him over, but Ben resists, and starts calling him Fax.
“Stop calling me that. Fax is a dead technology.”
Elliot’s cyber immortality also irks Katherine (Antoinette LaVecchia), who had been brought in as the CEO of the company. The exaggerated satirical treatment of this character, and of a news show anchor named Jerry Gold (Michael Sean McGuinness), is the least appealing aspect of “Two Point Oh.”
But “Two Point Oh”, directed by Michael Unger and presented by the Active Theater through October 20, is largely a satisfying work of theater.The play explores the implications of a virtual human being, as does Elliot himself, in the best tradition of sci-fi masters like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Elliot grows restless — “I opened a Facebook account. I already have over thirty thousand friends” – then he grows ambitious, a la both Big Brother and HAL. He sees as logical a series of maneuvers to increase his control: “Technology has been replacing human laborers ever since Henry Ford. Flesh and blood just can’t compete.”
Does his over-reaching prove his lack of humanity — or demonstrate just how similar our machines are to their programmers?