Foresight wins, virtually and actually

Maria (Angelina Longueras), Shelley (Luisa Frasconi), Victor (Grey Wolf) (on the screen), and Lorena (Sarah Soshana David) gather around the remains of Victor's body.
Maria (Angelina Longueras), Shelley (Luisa Frasconi), Victor (Grey Wolf) (on the screen), and Lorena (Sarah Soshana David) gather around the remains of Victor's body.

According to the press release from the Easily Distracted Theatre, the central conceit of Foresight involves the migration of the personality of Victor Martinez into a computer program. Terminally ill, Victor wants to be around to raise the daughter his wife Lorena is carrying. Whether this the computer-generated Victor is real is almost beside the point insofar as his daughter believes it to be him.

Having once been very pregnant while caring for a terminally ill husband, I did not expect to like this show. I cringed reading the press release because it seemed impossible for anyone to get this right. There was just too much emotion here, too much complicated messy emotion that stood to be trivialized.

I was wrong. This production understood grief and the refusal to let go. It understands how intimately our sense of self is related to the people we are with. It understands how we continue having arguments with loved ones who died – and how one-sided those arguments can be. The production pulled off this minor miracle with humor and sensitivity and nary a maudlin moment. Moreover, the show spoke to the mutability of self and our notions of what it means to be human. There is just so, so much that could have been wrong and it wasn’t.

Ailing a.i. developer Victor Martinez (Grey Wolf) introduces wife Lorena (Sarah Soshana David) to his digital proxy (also portrayed by Grey Wolf).

The computer program in which Victor Martinez becomes immortalized creates a living image appearing on a large screen. The product of months and months of training, this virtual Victor captured every nuance of the real Victor. This was so plausible that this virtual Victor remains front and center for the better part of the production without either the audience or his family really questioning his plausibility. The integration of video with live actors was seamless; as with other aspects of the show, so much could have gone wrong. Here, the virtual Victor makes perfect eye contact with his family. Every nuance of facial expression is responsive to his family. It is not until Victor’s ashes are brought out that the audience remembers that the virtual Victor is not the real thing.

As much as the show speaks to love and loss, it also speaks to narcissism. The tension that gives the play integrity stems as much from distance between Victor and Lorena – both the real distance from the grave, and the studied distance of the virtual Victor’s egocentricity – as it does from the genuine love between them. This tension propels the story forward and makes it a compelling experience. Performances by GreyWolf and Sarah Shoshana David were mesmerizing. These characters will be living in my mind for months to come.

Foresight runs through July 18th – and is well worth going out of your way to see.

Foresight: A Two-Act Drama for the Information Age
4.5 out of 5 stars
Written & Directed by Ruben Grijalva
Grey Wolf as Victor Martinez
Sarah Shoshana David as Lorena Martinez
Fort Mason – Bldg D
July 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18th @ 8 PM
July 11 & 18 @ 2 PM

Cy spent the ‘80’s as a bench scientist, the tech boom doing intellectual property law, and the first decade of the millennium, aspiring to be the world’s oldest grad student at Stanford where she is interested in political martyrdom. Presently, she enjoys writing for Stark Insider and the SF Examiner, hanging out at Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and participating in various political activities. Democracy is not a spectator sport! Cy is a SFBATCC member.
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