Review: Capital Stage’s The Nether

A provocative, powerful and deeply disturbing play that explores the consequences of living out one’s dark, private dreams

Showtimes: Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm, Wed 7pm. Through 2/25; $17.50-$40; Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464;
Rated 5.0

Capital Stage’s The Nether is a provocative, powerful and deeply disturbing play, directed by Kirk Blackinton, which explores the consequences of living out one’s dark, private dreams.

It is exquisitely acted, which makes the work wonderful theater despite its dark subject matter.

Jennifer Haley’s play is set sometime in the not-too-distant future, where technology has progressed to allow humans to interact with virtual worlds. Sims, an admitted pedophile, has created The Hideaway, a safe haven where people like himself can visit and satisfy their basest desires without danger of harming any real human beings.

The Hideaway has become so popular it has caught the attention of the internet police, and a detective has set out to find the location of its server so it can be shut down. Scenes go back and forth between the gray world of real life and the madly colored life of The Hideaway.

The Nether is certain to provoke conversations. Is modern technology the answer? Can you excuse criminal activity if no real person is hurt? Are the characters we would find abhorrent in this life sufficiently sympathetic that we can understand their attraction to The Hideaway as a place to indulge without hurting people in the real world? Or does The Hideaway legitimize their urges and make them more likely to feel more comfortable in the real world?