Mary Glen Frederick Divulges Techie Distortions
by Patricia L. Morin
In “Edit Annie,” playwright Mary Glen Frederick unfolds a threatening experimental world that grips us in a techno-web, using the tools of internet deception. Co-directors Leigh Rondon-Davis and Nailah Unole Dida-nese’ah Harper-Malveaux ensure that every moment is exciting and unexpected.
Isolated Annie (dynamic Leigh Rondon-Davis, in for Monique Crawford) provides tech support for her only client, Clara Couture (demonstrative Jordan Maria Don), a million-hit “Influencer” who sells beauty products to young girls. But Annie lives removed from the outside world. She works from home and never leaves.
Scenic Designer Ashley Mendez creates Annie’s unique office: table desk with computer mouse and blobs of unformed clay. A plastic duck chair and bean bag await. We stare, with Annie, at five big screens on the back wall.
Since most internet sales are generated by “Influencers” like Clara based on their hits, they can manipulate the masses to think in surprising ways. But the Techies who make their influence possible also have a price to pay. What happens to the Annies of the internet world? How do they see the world, the workplace, and their role in the future?
Every day, devoted Annie pulls together Clara’s daily selfies, and edits Clara’s personal videos to make her shine. We see the results in vivid, colorful videos—thanks to inventive Mary Glen Fredrick and Lana Palmer—with excellent sound enhanced by James Ard.
Because Annie loves her work, she is incited to do more, she remains imprisoned at the computer. She even creates her own avatar, a green clay “Impractical Amy” with a cape—her own cartoon superhero. Amy the Hero flashes her adventures on the big screens. But what does Impractical Amy want?
When she finally meets Clara by accident, Annie goes gaga over her secretive boss. Annie rejects advice from her compassionate friend Dana (logical Chibueze Crouch), who asserts that Clara is merely a “corporate tool.” Dana explains that Clara uses young girls and objectifies women.
Dramatist Fredrick takes us step by step through Annie’s internal conflicts, projected on the screens as her relationship with Clara blooms. It’s a warning to Techies who think they are in control, when they are merely gamers who have become enmeshed in the game.
These days, technology rules us all, more or less, but when does Annie ever evaluate her role in the Tech World she creates? You must experience Annie’s whirlwind of surprises for yourself. It’s a wild ride.
Rondon-Davis and Harper-Malveaux cleverly build a surreal atmosphere around Rondon-Davis’ ever-changing Annie. The key elements are Crouch’s tuned in Dana and Don’s crafty Clara. Each character reaches a unique and unexpected pinnacle.
Spense Matubang’s lighting offers the right moody ambience, leading to a shocking ending. See this mind-bending play, and you will forever reevaluate the dangers of working in Tech. And Tech’s effect on us.
“Edit Annie” by Mary Glen Fredrick, co-directed by Leigh Rondon-Davis & Nailah Unole Dida-nese’ah Harper-Malveaux, videos by Mary Glen Fredrick & Lana Palmer, by Crowded Fire Theater, at Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, San Francisco. Info: CrowdedFire.org – to October 15, 2023.
Cast: Leigh Rondon-Davis (for Monique Crawford), Chibueze Crouch, Jordan Marie Don, and Kenny Scott.
Banner photo: Monique Crawford as Annie. Photos by Cheshire Isaacs