By Rich Smith
Washington Ensemble Theatre's west coast premiere of Tim Price's Teh Internet Is Serious Business could have been good if it weren't so stagey about the whole thing. If you don't know anything about the story of LulzSec, the hacker group at the center of Price's play, you should know it's sort of like Ocean's 11 but with basement dwellers who spend their lives on the internet. A group of young men from the UK and the US (age range 16 to 28), some of whom worked with Anonymous, combined their powers in 2011 and hacked a bunch of companies—Fox, Sony, and a number of cyber security firms—to reveal the cracks in their cyber infrastructure and to get a good laugh out of totally pwning Authority. The implied complexity and depth of this story about a bunch of idiot kids on the internet is fascinating, but because of Wayne Rawley's direction, I left the theater wondering why it needed to be a play. Considering the tragedy of Charlottesville, Facebook's Russian fuckery, Google's sexist bullshit, Trump's trollish reign, and considering the strong presence of the "local" "tech" "community" right here in Seattle, the time is right to talk about the differences—or more importantly the lack of differences—between life in "cyberspace" and "meatspace," and also about the way internet forums concentrate misogyny and loneliness into a toxic gas that fuels violence. Those elements were apparent but under-examined in the clunky theatrical treatment of this story.