iLust for G-Love: An Auto-Ethnography is probably the most enjoyable play I’ve seen at Fringe, but take that with a grain of salt, because I’m a Millennial. It’s probably the first play ever written to feature (imaginary) Google glasses.
The dialogue is sharp, funny, and Sorkin-esque without suffering the disadvantage of actually being written by Sorkin. And it’s probably the first play where you won’t find a single person under the age of 35 looking at their iPhones, because they’re too distracted by… the actual play. Which mostly features the character’s text messages. Blown up on a huge projector screen. As they act on stage.
Welcome to a new era, American theatre.
iLust is a series of vignettes portraying the role that new technology plays in our love lives. Most of the vignettes take place in Washington D.C., but the time feels about a decade into the future. An astronaut brings the meaning of long-distance relationship to a whole new level when he gets set up with a manic NASA engineer dream girl at the beginning of his year-long mission to Mars. There is a dating site called iLust that if it launched today, would set off privacy alarmists everywhere (think OKCupid meets FourSquare meets Grindr, sans privacy controls), but people in the world of iLust seem a few years removed from these Snowden-era fears.
Setting iLust a few years into the future is short enough of a time period that events don’t seem too futuristic. Instead, iLust shows us a future that has a clear link to our present. One vignette addresses the age-old question of when to text after the first date (Answer: Just have your roommate grab your phone and run out of the room with it and everything will be okay) and explains why you never want to be the girl that types out “haha” when nothing funny has been texted.
iLust for G-Love: An Auto-Ethnography
by Kristine Quinio
at Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
An incredibly vibrant cast of five (Phillip Chang, Emily Crockett, Karen Lawrence, Kristen Stajich and Alex DeJong) is talented enough to switch between characters, significant others and even sexual orientations from act to act. Phillip Chang’s deadpan delivery was responsible for most of my laugh out loud moments, and Emily Crockett’s singing really sealed the deal.
But while I truly enjoyed the play, I can’t help but think of how during much of iLust, characters weren’t directly interacting with each other, but using the additional barrier of technology to communicate the kinds of things that are better communicated in person, or even worse, better left unsaid.
The play is hard-hitting in that it shows us how today’s modern life translates to the stage. We learn about the characters’ love lives not when they’re with the object of their affection but when they’re alone in front of their computer screens, wrestling with what to type. Serious inner-conflict has been reduced to a constant display of ellipses on someone’s iPhone screen. The agony of confessing your love for a dear friend is reduced to you sweating over your GChat screen at work, while the only thing your friend can see is your name followed by “is typing…”