Jo Ledingham on "The Nether"

The Nether
At Firehall Arts Centre
September 10-12, 15 and 17

There are some shows that bend your mind but The Nether turned mine right around. It makes a persuasive case for pedophiles keeping themselves and society safe by choosing to work out their sexual fantasies – including “The Act” – in a cyber world. Escaping into The Nether, ‘Papa’ indulges in his personal fantasy with a nine-year-old Alice-In-Wonderland-ish little girl. The bind, of course, is that fantasies like his must not “cross-over” into the real world and the jury is still out on whether the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ worlds can remain mutually exclusive. When a do-gooder detective, in hot pursuit of Papa, closes down the operation, we have to ask: what will Papa do now that he’s on the real streets of Vancouver? Virtual reality as a safe place is not a new idea but the sympathy for Papa (David Bloom) that The Nether elicits is fascinating and more than a little unsettling.