Best Before May 7, 2010

by Craig Snyder

Navigation. Steer as you might as an interactive player in this engaging show, you will still find yourself at the mercy of others. An endearing cast made up of non-actors,  ”˜Best Before’ is not a refined piece of theater, or even technology. But because of that, the element of chance makes it engaging theater for the viewer. The representation of each audience member in the virtual world of Best Land is filled with opportunities to select your own path. Often based on overt declarations within the interactive game, the script does little to reveal the complexity of living a life filled with everyday decisions and interactions. However, having a cast of individuals from everyday life providing the narrative, gives the audience a chance to reflect on their own lives in relationship to what they have become within the game. And just as in real life, the most poignant moments are unscripted. Nearly at the end of the performance, a technical glitch caused the game to stop in an attempt to call up a black hole. A cast of professional performers would not have skipped a beat in creating an exit strategy, without the audience knowing something was wrong. Yet, as in real life, things don’t progress without some work a long the way. Brady contemplates to herself on stage if she should stop the show, or reload the program. Within seconds the audience is privy to the code on the screen as Brady attempts to find the glitch. Thus, the viewer is not only seeing the virtual world deconstructed, they are seeing performance further deconstructed. In the end, the analog world came to the rescue, as audience members navigated their virtual lives through the remainder of the show by an unsolicited raising of hands. It will not take technical glitches to reveal some of the dilemmas individuals face in everyday life within  ”˜Best Before’, but it helped an engaging piece become even more vulnerable, and we were the better for it.