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Originally published Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 9:49 AM

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Review: Annex cyberpunk dramedy a little rough around the edges

A thoughtful, cyberpunk dramedy, Seattle playwright Scotto Moore's "When I Come to My Senses, I'm Alive!" is in a somewhat rough and overblown state for its world premiere at Annex Theatre.

Special to The Seattle Times

Theater review

'When I Come to My Senses, I'm Alive!'

By Scotto Moore, through May 22, Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike St., Seattle; $5-$15 (800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com).

A thoughtful, cyberpunk dramedy, Seattle playwright Scotto Moore's "When I Come to My Senses, I'm Alive!" is in a somewhat rough and overblown state for its world premiere at Annex Theatre.

It's not hard to be captivated by Moore's provocative premise about a leap in information technology that makes human emotions a download-

able, vicarious experience. The story's late turn toward suspense — with the spectral rise of freethinking, artificial intelligence on the Internet — certainly ups the ante in unexpected, spooky ways.

These are good reasons to hope Moore eventually sharpens and tightens this lengthy but deserving piece.

Given the story's overlapping conflicts and techno-exotic elements, the show's tone is unruly and imbalanced. On one hand, there's a "Scooby-Doo"-like gang of computer-savvy young people (though how young is never easily determined), characterized by idealism, naiveté and a reticence about romance.

When two of them, Annique (Jennifer Pratt) and Micky (Daniel Christensen), develop a means for capturing the former's passions as digital information called emoticlips — and making emoticlips accessible online — they draw the attention of a hardball television executive, Aleister (Curtis Eastwood), who wants to license the technology.

A huffy Annique rejects the offer, ushering in a high-priced fixer, Veronica (Jade Justad), whose secret ties to some unidentified, offstage power complicate her efforts (on Aleister's behalf) to blackmail emoticlips' inventors.

From an opening scene in which an unctuous Aleister tries to talk Annique into cooperating, it's difficult to tell who and what the latter and her confederates actually want.

It's also hard to get a read on whether Aleister is simply a buffoon or a sympathetic villain (the latter would be more interesting), or if Veronica's brand of freelance super-sleuthing even makes sense.

Despite such uncertainty, director Kristina Sutherland keeps the action brisk and crisp, and knows how to nudge the audience's imagination. There's a good show in here just waiting to come out.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com

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