Technology gone wild in 'FWD: Life Gone Viral' 

It’s best to think of “FWD: Life Gone Viral” as a festive 21st-century farce — with memorable, quirky twists.

Onstage at The Marsh, the show, which features the creative genius of locals Charlie Varon and Jeri Lynn Cohen, takes behaviors in today’s über-mod, techno world and places them under the microscope. The premise is simple: an oncologist (Cohen) tells her patient (Varon) that he’s been misdiagnosed with cancer.

But there are “unseen observers” in this slightly futuristic play.

“There are little flies flying around the doctor’s office that … look like flies, sound like flies, but are not flies,” Varon says. “They are unarmed drones. One is being operated by the doctor’s ex-husband, and the other by the patient’s ex-wife. And they get to talk to each other, these two ex-spouses.”

Toss in an iPhone and an addiction to uploading real-life experiences to YouTube, and you have the makings of a wild comedic ride.

Directed by David Ford, the show comments on how, Varon says, the Internet “now seems to cover almost every facet of exhibitionism possible — from, ‘I just had my tooth pulled’ to, ‘I’m about to die, here’s my wisdom.’

“I am a little bit aghast at what people are putting online and how fast it’s traveling — how anything is just a click away,” Varon adds. “Everybody has a camera on their phone, and you can shoot it and upload and 20 seconds later, the world can see your face wincing as you just had your nipple pierced. It just seemed ripe for comedy.”

Varon, well-known for bringing “Rush Limbaugh in Night School” and “Ralph Nader is Missing” to life, among other things, is an artist-in-residence at The Marsh and has been collaborating with Ford for 20 years. He has also joined forces with Dan Hoyle, directing the local resident’s popular shows, “Tings Dey Happen” and “The Real Americans.”

The current show, obviously, makes a statement on today’s modern world and illuminates how “we are swimming in this new digital sea.

“We’ve taken a little beaker of this new water and put it underneath the microscope and said, well, what is this all about?” Varon says. “It’s horrifying, crazy, but also very funny.”

Even so, he admits he “cannot make head nor tail of the world we now live in. In the words of Mary Catherine Bateson, ‘I am an immigrant of the past.’”


FWD: Life Gone Viral

Where: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. (near 22nd Street), S.F.

When: 8 p.m. most Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. most Sundays; closes June 10

Tickets: $15 to $50

Contact: (415) 282-3055,

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