'The Pleasure Raiders' When: Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m.; matinees Sundays at p.m. Through Oct. 28.
Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.
... * 1/2 Last winter "The Pleasure Raiders" -- a socio-political sci-fi detective story by Baltimore's Impossible Industrial Action theater company -- debuted at Towson State University. Now a second production, billed as "a reworking," is playing a three-week run at the Theatre Project.
It hasn't been reworked enough. At 2 1/2 hours -- much of it devoted to a diatribe against big business -- this version is a half-hour shorter than the original, but it's still too long and didactic.
Written and directed by Kirby Malone and Tony Tsendeas, the story remains largely unchanged. The setting is the year 2022 in the "Balto-Wash Megalop." The world is ruled by multinational corporations. Consumerism has replaced entertainment, religion, even war. If you don't like the system, or if you happen to work in one of the labs, you may end up an unwitting test subject in the latest mind-control experiment.
The action revolves around a lab technician (Scott Neilson) who hires a detective (Connie Winston) to locate his missing girlfriend (Donna Sherman). At least he thinks she's missing; his mind has been playing tricks on him lately.
The detective soon discovers her job is bigger than tracking down a missing person. Her quest represents the struggle of the individual against the system, the little guy against the military-industrial complex, imagination against technology -- you get the idea.
But there's a basic fallacy to the production. "The Pleasure Raiders" is a multimedia piece that relies heavily on technology. Scenery and titles are projected, and at times the actors lip-sync dialogue to broadcast voices.
Instead of emphasizing humanity, the piece embraces the technology it rails against. If this is intended to be ironic, it doesn't play that way.
A few improvements have been made. There's a bit more mystery to the detective's case, and there's a dark, new scene in which the lab technician sweats through a nightmare.
But with a few exceptions -- notably Ms. Sherman and Robb Bauer, who plays her cell mate -- the acting is amateurish. And the message gets v-e-r-y t-e-d-i-o-u-s.
In the end, the names of this company and this show say it all: Impossible Industrial Action's "The Pleasure Raiders." Indeed.