This past weekend of political plays—Mike Daisey on China, Steven Dietz on 9/11 conspiracy theories—began with a futuristic satire by local playwright Elizabeth Heffron, set in a tall tower where the ardent followers of Glenn Beck have sequestered themselves away from the dirty world. Most of them live the dull, spiritually and materially impoverished lives you've come to know from a variety of totalitarian worlds imagined by writers over the years, and they submit to the will of mysterious Elders who harvest their food, their maidenheads (Beck gets first dibs!), and sometimes their genetic material, which helps keep the creaky old Elders (barely) alive.
Down on one of the lower floors, a company of hapless performers writes and rehearses political pageants—trumpeting the virtues of Mr. Beck and his Elders—for the people of the tower. The younger ones (can you see this coming?) dream of escape and freedom, even if it means living in the anarchic, Hobbesian beyond where people are mean and some unspecified spores colonize people's bodies.
Despite a few bright performances (particularly the bird-like Erin Pike as a dreamy girl who plots the escape and Connor Marx as a postapocalyptic Hermes who travels between the tower and the outside world), Her Mother Was Imagination doesn't take you anywhere you haven't been before. It's 1984 inside and Mad Max outside, with a heavy nod to Star Wars rebellion at the end. The production's only genuine innovation happens in the lobby, where volunteers pedaling stationary bicycles power the stage lights. It's a nice thought, but one wishes the same degree of ingenuity had been applied to the script.
In its past few seasons, Annex Theatre has conducted several forays into the relatively unexplored world of what one might call nerd theater—scripts dealing with science fiction, superheroes, and the far future—with mixed success. For those of you keeping track, Her Mother Was Imagination is an undistinguished, though not excruciating, addition to this catalog.