Cautionary tales of technological dystopias are ubiquitous these days in popular culture. But the new play by Jennifer Haley, The Nether—opening this month at New York’s Lucille Lortel Theatre—turns the risks and gray areas of the internet into a fascinating moral drama. The story centers on a multisensory, immersive realm called the Hideaway, an unsavory Victorian-era-themed space in which pedophiles enact their fantasies. While the detective protagonist investigates whether actual crimes have been committed in this virtual netherworld, the site’s creator defends the zone as a place to safely act out these desires. Haley’s techno-dilemmas take on a disturbing life in this wormhole of real and unreal, lived or imagined.
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