Two years ago I found myself slowly climbing out of an emotional divorce. Although I grew up in Ogden for the first nine years of my life, I hadn’t really ventured outside my home much in the nearly two years that I had been back. One of the decisions I made to help me get out of my shell was to join a local volunteer group. The second meeting I attended for this group was held at Good Company Theatre, where I had the honor of meeting owner Alicia Washington. My introduction to this amazing woman and her small theater has opened doors for me in the last two years. Doors I didn’t know I needed opened, or that they even existed. This theatre has also become a strong addition to the many reasons Ogden has become a place I never want to leave. Walking up the steps a few nights ago on my way in to watch the current production, the thought came to me, “This. This place and the amazing people I’ve met by walking through these doors. This is one of my absolute favorite things about Ogden.”
“The Nether” is an award-winning play making its regional debut at Good Company Theatre. Detective Morris (Alicia Washington) is investigating a site in the Nether, the virtual-reality version of the internet, called The Hideaway. It is a world free from consequence, where guests can act out their darkest desires on young children. Because it isn’t real, nothing changes, and nobody really gets hurt.
(Photo courtesy of Good Co. Theatre)
The site is run by Sims (Jake T. Holt), a disturbed and brilliant individual, who goes by the name “Papa” when in the world he created. He believes his site allows pedophiles and murderers a safe, anonymous outlet to satisfy their needs. Iris (Riley Allen) is the character Sims has built as his prize possession and a favorite among guests. Morris wants Sims to divulge the location of his server, so she can shut the site down. She sends in an undercover agent, Detective Woodnut (Allen Smith) to gather information that will help in her investigation. Her investigation also leads to her questioning Doyle (Paul Naylor), a guest that is considering crossing over into the virtual-reality world permanently by becoming a shade.
The acting in this production is some of the best I’ve seen at Good Company. Riley Allen as the charming, young Iris gives a strong performance but did tend to seem distracted at times. Allen Smith and Paul Naylor both nailed their characters and successfully portrayed their complicated roles. Jake T. Holt seamlessly transitioned from the nervous Sims in the interrogation room to the personable, confident Papa. Alicia Washington, back from her acting hiatus, was fabulous as Detective Morris. All of the actors captured the strengths, flaws, and emotion of their characters wonderfully. Nicole Finney did an incredible job as director, successfully utilizing the small space to transition from the interrogation room to the world of The Hideaway.
“The Nether” is thought-provoking and the subject matter is difficult. In today’s world where the internet has become such a strong tool we use to communicate and escape from reality, this production poses honest and serious questions to consider. It gets under your skin and makes you think.