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Red Turnip’s THE NETHER – could it be real?

The Nether

Fresh from the critical success of their last outing, the family comedy-drama Tribes, Red Turnip takes audiences into a bolder theatrical experience with the Asian premiere of multi-awarded sci-fi crime drama, THE NETHER.

Is it real? Could it be real?

Created by acclaimed American playwright, Jennifer Haley, The Nether explores the ethical questions and moral consequences of living out one’s hidden desires and fantasies easily feasible in the virtual world.

This thrilling play tackles the impact of technology on human relationships, identity, and desire. But this goes beyond today’s usual talk about the known effects of addictive social media. It uncovers a thought-provoking, scary web of possibilities in living out a life that otherwise should just be confined in the computers. A world of what-ifs. A world of why’s and why-not’s.

Set in the near future, the internet has evolved into the Nether, where individuals prefer to spend their life more and more. It is a virtual paradise so interactive that it engages all the senses — a tempting haven to retreat from a bleak world. Users may log in, choose an identity, and indulge any desire. But a young detective discovers a new brand of disturbing entertainment. As she brings its creator in for interrogation, they discover they have made emotional attachments that blind them to the greater questions of ethical behavior, both in the imagination and in the real, outside world. She comes face to face with the most hidden parts of the imagination, and the darkest inclinations of the soul.

A cast of legends and rising stars

THE NETHER boasts of powerhouse ensemble led by legendary actors Bernardo Bernardo (Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, El Filibusterismo, Katy!) and Bodjie Pascua (3 Stars and a Sun, The Tempest Reimagined, Waiting for Godot). Making their Red Turnip debuts, young actresses Alba Berenguer-Testa (Annie) and Junyka Santarin (GMA 7’s Pyra) alternate in one of the play’s pivotal roles. Screen actor TJ Trinidad (Saving Sally) joins the cast after an accomplished theater debut as Bruce in last year’s The Normal Heart, which garnered him a Gawad Buhay nomination for Best Featured Actor. Jenny Jamora (Cock, The Vagina Monologues, A Little Night Music) returns to take on the lead role of an investigator of The Nether’s online offerings.

Alba Berenguer-Testa (CU, 2MB)

Alba Berenguer-Testa

Bernardo Bernardo (2MB)

Bernardo Bernardo

Bodjie Pascua (2MB)

Bodjie Pascua

Jenny Jamora (2MB)

Jenny Jamora

Junyka Santarin (CU, 2MB)

Junyka Santarin

TJ Trinidad (2MB)

TJ Trinidad

Directing it is Red Turnip’s multi-award winning veteran actress and director Ana Abad Santos (Apocalypse Child, Closer).

Multi-awards and Asian premiere 

The Nether won for Jennifer Haley the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. It was given seven Los Angeles Ovation awards, including trophies for design, acting, and Playwriting for an Original Play. It was nominated for four Olivier awards including Best New Play when subsequent productions were mounted in the West End. The play spread fast across production companies in the west. Red Turnip is now proud to introduce The Nether in Asia.

Director Abad Santos talked about the excitement and meaning of staging this ultra modern, time-relevant concept through a traditional medium, the stage play. “The Nether is a new material that bravely dives into the horrors of man, the unspeakable, but still makes sense out of it. It explores human desires and boundaries or lack of. And the discovery that no matter how beautiful or grotesque our desires are, we are all still searching for that “one”–to LOVE and to be loved,” Abad Santos said.

Assistant director and one of Red Turnip’s main man, Rem Zamora, revealed the creative challenges of staging The Nether: “A big part of the creative challenge in any play is to make the unbelievable, believable. We have to be able to transport our audience into the world where the actors are interacting and sacrifice realism and logic for the sake enjoyment. Fortunately, we have the creative team — John Batalla (lights), Ed Lacson (set), Marta Lovina (set stylist), Teresa Barrozo (sound), and Faust Paneyra (costume) led by director Ana Abad Santos — to whisk the audiences into the world of The Nether. Of course, all this is done without the exorbitant Broadway and West End budgets. This does in no way impede creativity but rather, stretches it even further.”

The Red Turnip experience

Relevance, ensemble acting and unique theatrical experience define the local run of THE NETHER — features that mark each production of Red Turnip.

Ever since making their debut four years ago, Red Turnip has made a name in the local theater scene, by sticking to their vision of producing contemporary, time-relevant straight plays. One can find in Red Turnip productions some strong, brilliant text-driven materials — like bold literary masterpieces that beckons imagination and inspiration to ponder. Expect top-notch, brilliant acting as it is the thing that carries the play through. No frills. Just real, unadulterated acting that penetrates.

“We produce thought-provoking material in an intimate, unconventional space. We keep our houses small so that it really becomes a shared experience between audience and cast. We encourage drinking and (hopefully) plenty of discussion way after the show ends,” Zamora added.

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Each of the Red Turnip’s eight productions so far (Closer, Cock, Rabbit Hole, Time Stands Still, 33 Variations, This is our Youth, Constellations, and Tribes) has gone on to top critics’ lists and garner awards and nominations from both the Aliw and Gawad Buhay Awards.

In the tradition thereof, Red Turnip’s THE NETHER is expected to once again electrify and give audiences the complete theatrical experience that this groundbreaking theater company is known for.

THE NETHER opens on March 10 and runs all weekends thereafter until April 9 at the new Power Mac Center Spotlight in Ayala Mall Circuit Makati. Tickets are available at www.ticketworld.com.ph, Ticketworld store outlets, and at www.redturnip.com.ph.

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