BWW Reviews: Imagination Celebration with the world premiere of ED, DOWNLOADED at the Denver Center
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by Michael Mulhern
The Denver Center Theatre Company presents a world premiere of Michael Mitnick's ED DOWNLOADED playing now through February 17th. A captivating story based on what is sure to be an eventual true story. Both live action and feature film, this intriguing comedy tells the story of Ed, who is dying. Given a chance at immortality, he has his brain downloaded and is allowed ten memories to take into eternity. But when his fiancee discovers what they are, she intervenes.
Aside from the multimedia extravaganza and the awkward love triangle, this crux of this touching play is this - Edward is dying. This is a tender and thought provoking story that delights you and breaks your heart. When I heard exactly what was going on in this tech-heavy production, I had to wonder how it would work without being bogged down in the play or the video. To my delight everything worked in a hilarious and harmonious way. This show feels like a concept from the genius mind of Issac Asimov and at times reminded me of an extension of the Big Bang Theory and was a very odd and fascinating concept that made me and everyone else think - what ten memories would you take with you to cherish in death. The dialogue was witty and the Rocks and You video had the audience in stitches. Because of this tender script, you invest in these characters and your heart breaks when you realize that Edward is dying. The girl fight was really fun and I have to commend them on great pauses that added to the intensity of the scene. At intermission, I can honestly say that after Selene discovered the affair and Edward's memories, where would the show go from there. Let me tell you - the show took a us a captivating and funny turn that showed us what really happens when you try to play God. You really grew to feel from Selene in her insanity as she tried to cling to this failed relationship. The second girl fight was a little more far fetched, but Edward's final monologue had everyone transfixed to the heartbreaking end.
Each of theses actors brought their all in their Denver Center debuts. JD Taylor as Edward had that goofy charm and a smile that wouldn't quit. While he was only on the stage for Act One, his performance was moving. I was totally drawn into his last monologue about the elephants at the end of the show that had me in tears. Grace Rex was the definition of awkward quirkiness and was so adorable. It was her bluntness that had the audience in stitches. Annie Purcell as Edward's fiancee, Selene really gave us such range. From her nurturing, to her betrayal and slow descent into madness - her character as a whole was wonderful to watch.
The sets really are something to behold thanks to the creativity of James Kronzer I especially loved the dimension of the forest and the futuristic and sterile feel of the Forevertery. Lighting by designer Brian Tovar and sound by Tyler Nelson were also just as important in this light and sound effects show that had the audience in awe of the Forevertery. A special standing ovation goes out to video designer Charlie L. Miller for making such amazing video clips and really fun manipulations (kudos on the hilarity of Rocks and You). Director Sam Buntrock took this challenging and technically complex show and found the simplicity of the story without being bogged down in graphics and effects. While the story by Michael Mitnick may have been a little far fetched at times (ie - when Ruby brings a shotgun into Selene's place of work) but that was forgotten in this bitter sweet and lovely story that absolutely captivated the audience all while making them think.
This show is a sensory overload that truly works to everyone's delight. ED, DOWNLOADED is enticing audiences at the Ricketson Theatre in the Denver Center now until February 17th. For tickets of more information, contact the Denver Center box office at 303-893-4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org. A DCTC commission, this world premiere was a staged reading at the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jennifer M Koskinen