Accessibly Live Off-Line – THE SURVEILLANCE TRILOGY has an “eerie persona”

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for their second program of the 2019-2020 season, the world premier of Leda Siskind’s THE SURVEILLANCE TRILOGY, three separate tales that speak of being watched by somebody or something-known or otherwise!

The first entity-Until All of This is Over, takes place in Los Angeles-1953. A married pair (Landon Beatty and Jocelyn Hall, alternating with Suzanne Slade) lives as a typical couple with an adapted child. The husband was recently investigated by authorities over something about himself and his family. Why were they interested in him? Was it about his political beliefs? Why were these authorities curious on why they adapted a child rather than having a natural birth? Why did his wife attend an all-woman’s college? Was this marriage a set up because the husband was hiding a lifestyle that’s been deemed as unacceptable by society?

The second installment-The Havana Syndrome, takes place in a hotel room in Havana-2017. A doctor (Warren Davis) working on behalf of the CIA interviews a woman (Stacy Moseley) who was employed at the US Embassy on an illness she encountered that came out of nowhere while she was at her home. She was not the only one to suffer from this illness as other embassy workers were experiencing the same symptoms. Could this illness had something to do with strange radio waves aimed at workers for the US State Department? Who, or what, is behind those radio waves? Did this have to do with the opening of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, or are these reported illnesses just a coincidence?

The third and final installment is entitled Are You Listening?, takes place in a home located somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Jezz (Charlotte Evelyn Williams) a one time fashion model turned screenwriter, is completing a deal with a production company close to buying her script. Her adolescent daughter Shira (Squoia Granger) lives with her. Jazz relies upon her A.I. assistant “Angel” on getting the information she needs. But what information is Angel collecting from her and Shira? Jezz’s ex Simon (Max Pescherine), an I.T. guy, knows the insight of what databanks knows about individuals. But for what purpose? Is this purpose used for big e-tailers to target goods based upon their interests rather than needs? And is Angel there to answer questions asked on the spot, or can it listen to order to gather details for some unknown source?

These trio of stage tales question upon the notion that perhaps there is a “big brother” out there that can use information for the good of somebody else at the expense of who is supplying the information. These ideas ring true especially in this post-modern age where data is perhaps the biggest cash crop around–far more than pork bellies and natural gas futures! The stories that are told are based upon true facts that were later documented, giving this stage play a rather eerie persona. It’s not scary in any sense, but it’s enough to register that something knows more about you that you may realize!

Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s resident set designer, created a set that consists of three smaller scenes. Center stage consists of a 1950’s-era home complete with a streamlined love seat, coffee table, and upright table lamp. One stage right represents a simple hotel room in Havana with two ornate upright chairs as its base. On stage left is another living room with a stuffed leather love seat, another coffee table, along with the “Angel” A.I. device, complete with “wings” that glow blue when it’s being spoken to. (Johnny Burton designed the “Angel” device.)

Overall, this play is more serious and sober that one would expect. Again, with technology the way it’s been over the last year, it’s a lot easier to know everything about a person. It’s suggested to take this Theatre 40 production as an eye opener. Getting information at an instant is fast and easy for a reason. Just watch yourself because if you don’t, somebody else will!!