Theatre Exile’s digital show highlights the dark side of the web

Bi Jean Ngo and David M Raine
Jen Cleary

Starting this week, South Philadelphia-based theater company Theatre Exile will present the debut of a new virtual show to audiences not only in the Philly area, but worldwide.

From February 11th through February 28th, “Sin Eaters” will be available to stream through a special link that will be sent after tickets are purchased. The play, which is the fourth show by award-winning playwright Anna Moench, will be directed by Theatre Exile Resident Artist Matt Pfeiffer, and will feature Philadelphia-based actors Bi Jean Ngo and David M Raine. This will be Raine’s debut in a Theatre Exile production, and this will be Ngo’s third production with Theatre Exile, previously starring in highly praised shows such as “Babel” and “Among the Dead.”

The show’s synopsis officially reads: Toeing the lines between satire and harsh reality, “Sin Eaters” is a hilarious, poignant, and brutal examination of the human experience and the extremity of what the social media industry puts people through in order for the rest of us to have a positive and sustained online life. The main character Mary works in the tech sector as a “content moderator,” one of the unseen people who scrub our social media feeds of violent, sexual, and otherwise disturbing imagery.

The 75-minute production is described as having a satirical beginning while looking and examining the world of inappropriate online content. The story then unravels into a drama especially for one character, Mary, when she can no longer connect with her boyfriend, coworker, or neighbors as the stresses around her begin to break her down. As she is pulled deeper into the recesses of the internet, Mary then finds a graphic video that makes her question her relationship, her sanity, and her own capacity for violence.

“Sin Eaters a very provocative and imaginative script. We all spend way too much time online, and the play is an exploration of the after-effects,” said Matthew Pfeiffer, a 12-time Barrymore nominee and winner who is taking on directing the new show, in a statement. “When you’re engaging in massive amounts of online content, it does skew your view of reality in a way that has disastrous effects. Our production team plans on utilizing webcams, security cameras, and iPhones, to give the feeling of a found footage experience similar to The Blair Witch Project. The goal is to allow actors Bi Jean Ngo and David M Raine to feel unencumbered by the camera, just like it would be on stage in a theater.”

Matt PfeifferKim Carson

Utilizing the digital and visual sphere allowed the team behind Exile’s new show to have that creative freedom. To engage viewers, various cameras and filming styles will play an important role, offering an up-close, “voyeuristic” feel, and the show’s intimate setting allows audiences to be “immersed” fully. Sin Eaters is also the second production of Theatre Exile’s 2020/21 season and features two actors who live together in real life, allowing for them to be filmed in the same space safely.

“When Deb Block approached me and my partner, fellow actor Bi Jean Ngo, about the play, my first thought was, ‘Wow, this is pretty heavy material,’” Raine said in a statement.” I liked the idea of such dark subject matter being played out in a casual atmosphere. Just like in life. Families, couples, friends can witness or stumble through a crazy and traumatic experience. But you still have to do something as mundane as sit down and eat dinner at the end of the day.”

“Anna Moench is a dynamic playwright who created a tightly woven thriller in Sin Eaters,” added Ngo. “Moench wove complex emotional and socio-political layers into a story that’s really about two people in a relationship. I was drawn into exploring the idea of truth and how we discern what’s true.”

Jen Cleary

According to the release, viewers can expect to feel the connection immediately between Ngo and Raine. “We have been isolated from our friends and families for so long that when we get to watch the Ngo and Raine together during their scenes, it will feel so satisfying,” said Deborah Block, Theatre Exile’s Producing Artistic Director. “Together, the actors will be able to play off each other organically like in the theater and feel each other’s performances. The audiences will understand their love at the onset and feel their pain more acutely as their relationship strains.”

Tickets cost $15-$4 and can be purchased online or by calling 215-218-4022. A link to the show will be emailed after your purchase. For more information, visit theatreexile.org

More from our Sister Sites