We’ve all heard of that mythical Match.com couple—some of us have even met one or two—that fell in like at first “wink” and in love at first meeting. Though all too often it’s the horror stories that garner more attention: the sweetheart that turns into a stalker or the self-professed “casual dater” who’s actually on the fast track to marriage.
But somewhere in between too-cute and crazy, a fair number of normal people meet their match online. This 21st century boy-meets-girl story is given a new technological spin by Junesong Arts in their impressively executed production, The Webcam Play.
The play, written by Timothy J. Guillot and directed by Sasha Bratt, is an explorative dramedy about the peaks and pitfalls of online romance. When Ryan (Steven Isaac) meets Taylor (Sarah Ferris) on the dating site OkCupid, the two quickly progress from casual email exchanges to late-night Skype chats, drunk texting, and a few cringe-worthy attempts at long-distance intimacy.
They commiserate about their jobs, complain about their parents, and poke fun at each other in an adorably adolescent way. They talk about what they’d do if they ever actually met each other—Ryan lives in DC, while Taylor lives with her mom in Florida—and how thankful they are a for a friendly face, even if its hundreds of miles away.
The couple’s budding relationship is artfully displayed in a collage of technology. The audience is privy to all their many forms of communication—from split-screen Skype chats and emails to text messages—all displayed on a large screen. It’s an inventive and extremely effective staging choice, showcasing how something that was born online can take on a very real life of its own.
Steven Isaac is a pure delight as a charming goof ball who wears his heart on his sleeve, while Sarah Ferris’s performance provides an honest insight into the realities of a rollercoaster romance. Both actors handle the changing emotional landscape with ease as the play shifts from virtual adoration to desperate confusion, and finally, to physical confrontation. When the two meet at last, all pretenses are abandoned and the audience sees them for what they really are—strangers.
The production provokes several questions. When does an online friendship become something more? Is it a verbal confirmation or an emotional understanding? As Ryan and Taylor’s relationship progresses, they encounter many of the same issues any young couple would experience, but their circumstances exacerbate the situation.
If passion can un-tether the most rational of minds, how hard must it be to keep a grip on reality when you’re in love in a virtual world?
The Webcam Play has 5 performances, ending July 28, 2012, at Goethe Institut, 812 7th St NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Christian rates this 5 out of a possible 5.