Berkeley Rip’s Octet explores the cacophony of the internet

Dave Malloy’s West Coast Premiere eightDirected by Annie Tepe. Front row, left to right: Justin Gregory Lopez (Toby), Margo Seibert (Jessica) and Kim Blank (Carly). Middle row: Kuhoo Verma (Velma), J.D. Mollison (Marvin), and Isabel Santiago (Paula). Back row: Adam Bachian (Ed) and Alex Gibson (Henry). Credit: Kevin Byrne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The amazing musical talent Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet (1812) I realized a few years ago that he was spending a lot of time on the internet. Therefore, he decided to write a show about it (music, lyrics, book, audio arrangement). The result is eightCreative, contemporary, melodic, funny, sad Capella Chamber opera for eight voices, which pierces a peg in the heart of the network, song by glorious song. I was so intrigued eight I wish there were more than 90 minutes for me to enjoy.

eightBerkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St., through May 29

at eight, eight Internet addicts meet in a weekly support group to share their dependencies and obsessions. Each talented participant testifies through the song, accompanied by the others. The lyrics are witty and extensive, so reading them online is useful before the performance and fun afterwards. And while this is primarily a musical production, with Annie Tippe’s able guidance, there’s a great dynamic acting and theatrical direction to keep things moving.

Each support group member has become the victim of a different slice of private internet hell. There’s Jessica (Margo Seibert), whose life was ruined by the “White Woman Going Crazy” video that became a meme. Poor Henry (Alex Gibson) can’t stop playing Candy Crush and stays unwashed for days. in the song single, Carly (Kim Blank) and Ed (Adam Bachian) sing about the inhuman and dehumanizing single lives of dating apps. Film (Kohu Verma) sings a beautiful single with a suitable title beautyrendering the audience speechless.

Margo Seibert (Jessica). Credit: Kevin Byrne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The perfect place for eight It’s the dilapidated chapel basement of the E. Justman Faith Center, with remnants including an original Macintosh and a copy of Judy Collins’ book of old songs cleverly arranged by co-designers Amy Rubin and Brittany Fasta. Unconfirmed left references to the mysterious, invisible Saul, who appears to have started the group and may have some supernatural or computer supernatural talent.

This is the West Coast premiere of the movie eight It follows the world premiere at Signature Theater in New York, where three-time Tony Award-nominated Dave Malloy and a playwright-in-residence work.

Octet runs through May 29th. It’s 90 minutes, without interruption. Proof of vaccination and mask wearing is required. Tickets, $29 – $159, subject to change, can be purchased online On the Berkeley Rep or by phone at 510-647-2949.

‘Octet’ playwright Dave Malloy warns against ‘repetitive, reckless activities’

Malloy is an amazing talent, and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for Berkleeside earlier this month. Quotes below have been modified for clarity and length.

On the human voice:

I was a stereotypical music nerd at my high school in Lakewood, Ohio. I was in the marching band, the razor quartet, and the jazz band. I have been in many vocal groups – chamber choir, symphonic choir, jazz choir and quartet. I was diving into music.

I love writing in a human voice. It’s my favorite tool. Because of my high school experience, I was exposed to many types of singing. when i started eight, about a 12-step meeting like the AA meeting in the basement of the church, of course there can’t be a band in the corner. These eight people come together to share their stories and be vulnerable with each other. One of the things about the group is that it’s anonymous. The music had to come from these eight people combined. When I realized it, I thought, “That’s cool.” It’s been fun for me as a composer to immerse myself in different vocal styles that I’ve loved over the years.

On Internet toxicity:

I realized I was spending a lot of time on my phone. A lot of people have been talking about feeling like they are looking thoughtlessly at screens, on the go all the time, and playing video games.

The entry to that for me was that I got involved in following online intelligent design discussions for some reason – I’ve been obsessed with looking at science forums – and watching arguments between creationists and scientists. The way you break down the discourse on the Internet I found it fascinating. There is a piece of eight Take that as a starting point. From there I started talking about how harmful and toxic online speech can be to people in general.

I became a huge addict of video games. During the COVID period, I played World of Warcraft socially with friends. I had a candy crush addiction.

I’m addicted to puzzles on Saturdays in the New York Times, word and the spell bee. very fun. Crossword puzzle is fine. They are complete. One a day and you’re done.

But Candy Crush and Cookie Clicker are endless and you can play them for the rest of your life. Repetitive, repetitive activities are dangerous.

Mendel, a resident of Longtime East Bay, has been the Berkleeside freelance theater and art critic since 2012.