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Jordan Harrison's intriguing new drama is set in a dystopian near future where print is dead.

Mia Katigbak, Angela Lin, and Christopher Larkin in Futura
(© William P. Steele)
A lecture on the history of typography is probably not what most people expect during a night out at the theater. And yet, Jordan Harrison's intriguing new drama Futura, presented by the National Asian American Theater Company at TBG Studios, begins with a rather lengthy speech on just that. Thankfully, as delivered by Mia Katigbak as Professor Lorraine Wexler, the lecture proves to be an insightful and entertaining one filled with juicy facts and told with dramatic flair.

There's also much more lurking just under the surface of the text than simply the distinction between serif and sans-serif fonts. The play is set in the near future, where print is not only dead -- it's been annihilated by a Big Brother-like organization called "The Company" that engaged in a mass book burning operation euphemistically termed "The Great Collection." In the dystopian world of the play, all forms of writing are electronic, and The Company has complete access to every communication, as well as the power to censor information and eliminate individuals who pose a threat to their regime.

While this vision of the future may seem extreme, Harrison is clearly and cleverly extrapolating from our contemporary society's ever-growing trend towards digitalization. The play is bound to inspire plenty of laughter of recognition, and serves up a cautionary tale about what may be lost as technological advances change the way we think and the way we write.

Futura kicks into high gear once Lorraine is kidnapped by Gash (Christopher Larkin) and Grace (Angela Lin), anti-Company revolutionaries who think the professor can help them locate the "Zero Drive," which is said to be a backup of all of the original books that The Company has wiped out. The two young rebels are working for Edward (Edward A. Hajj), a figure from Lorraine's past whose goals don't necessarily line up with her own.

Katigbak imbues her role with passion and conviction, as unexpected bursts of emotion even creep into her lecture on typography. Larkin's expressive body language nicely conveys his confusion and conflicted loyalties as Gash tries to decide whose agenda he should be helping to further -- and what he himself wants out of the deal. Lin brings the right amount of belligerence to what is essentially a paper-thin role, while Hajj demonstrates a few more shades in what is also an underdeveloped character.

Fight choreographer Michael G. Chin assures that certain moments are played with appropriate liveliness, while director Liz Diamond also manages to bring out the subtleties in a text that is sometimes overburdened with exposition.


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