800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick

A semi-surreal look at a sci-fi writer’s life

Victoria Stewart’s play 800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick focuses on the end of the science fiction author’s life—arguably the point at which his lucidity was most questionable. Dick is known for writing many of his stories under the influence of amphetamines, and at points during the play, I wondered if Ms. Stewart had experimented with this technique as well. Whatever her methods, they work. 800 Words is a beautifully structured example of what surreal theater can be. Shawn Belyea leads an exceptionally talented cast as Dick, who slips in and out of reality; one moment he’s talking with his wife (Holly Arsenault) or his literary agent (Colin Connors), the next with a secret agent (Nik Perleros) or a hot German android (Erin Kraft). Yet it’s his cat Sasha (the gifted puppeteer Megan Ahiers) whom the audience adores most. In what is surely one of the play’s most poignant moments, the cat asks Dick, “Will you ever lose your shit completely?” Directed by Jess Smith, the play—albeit long—moves quickly and humorously towards death. Ends Nov. 17.

Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 19. Continues through Nov. 17, 2007

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