WIRE HEAD Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle WIRE HEAD, currently at the SF Playhouse, is a not-to-be-missed hyperbolic comedy think piece written by Matthew Benjamin and Logan Brown and superbly directed by Susi Damilano. WIRE HEAD serves as a lens, a mirror, a sounding board and a litmus test to examine the moral and ethical gray zones created when superior intelligence is juxtaposed or collides with mediocre intelligence. As human beings it is hard to conceive of another species, aside from gods, demi-gods, (not to be confused with demagogues) and dolphins that are collectively or individually smarter than we. What thoughts; what truths; what knowledge would such a species apprehend that we could not? We may condescendingly indulge the dolphin, pat him or her on the slippery head, and acknowledge that his or her larger brain represents more cognitive potential than our own brain, but the truth is that we are not threatened by the dolphin. Perhaps we are not threatened because the dolphin seems to be perpetually smiling: we implicitly trust them and, we never have to compete head on against a dolphin at work, at sea, at chess, in a poker game or in a singles bar. Imagine a superior entity that looked at your feeble intelligence the same way that you look at the intelligence of a Chimpanzee, a Labrador Retriever or your Uncle Cusper. There is a Star Trek episode wherein a non-essential crewmember is stuck by cosmic lightning—whatever that is. Rather than fry and die, the crewmember recovers; immediately his intelligence begins to show exponential growth; he devours every book in the Starship Enterprise Carnegie Library. The crewmember goes on to absorb the ship’s data base and is studying the Enterprises’ owner’s manual when Spock learns that the crew member completely understands the collected works of Spinoza, enjoyed the movie INCEPTION and can beat Spock at three dimensional chess. Spock urgently recommends marooning the new super genius on a planet that is so primitive that its inhabitants eat without silverware, have no cable television, cannot distinguish between a Merlot and a Cabernet and have barely scratched the surface of Paleolithic culture. As the usually rational Spock warns Captain Kurk, “Jim, we have got to get him off this ship: in a few days, he will be looking at us as if we were lab rats.” The panicky assumption is that the new genius will NOT be a moral genius and his cognitive powers will be inimical to the Enterprise mission and its crew. Strange that as a species we not only intimidated by, but are mistrustful of and threatened by, other peoples’ superior intelligences. Such is the grist and gist of WIRE HEAD. In WIRE HEAD, a Chinese firm begins marketing cranial implants, nano-hard drives and chips designed to augment human intelligence. Given that there is little demand, or need, for these devices in China, they sell them to Americans who were not raised by an Asian Tiger Mom or Amy Chua and who regularly attended sleep-overs. When Hammy (played by Cole Alexander Smith), an indulged trust fund baby, has an implant installed, he is suddenly infinitely smarter than his mediocre cohorts Adams (played by Craig Marker) and Destry (played by Gabriel Marker). Recalling how an advanced culture—the Europeans—enslaved and decimated a primitive indigenous culture—the American Indians—Adams and Destry declare war on cranial chips, nano-hard drives and the wire heads who have them. If it morally permissible to kill a species designated less intelligent than humans, is it also permissible to kill an artificially created species that has far greater intelligence than humans? After all, as Protagorus said, “Man is the measure of all things.” WIRE HEAD should be seen with a group of friends: it will inspire a philosophical discussion that will continue into the evening long after the last glass of wine and bottle of beer have been consumed. WIRE HEAD is a parable, metaphor and augur for our times. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Superb directing and judicious casting have taken a brilliant script and elevated it to inspirational art. For an evening of hilarious, thought provoking fun and laughter, call the box office at 415-677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org.