The Position

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Through Feb. 28. $20; 800-838-3006 or www.pianofight.com.
The Off-Market Theaters, 965 Mission (at Sixth St.), S.F.

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The Position, PianoFight's first full-length dramatic production, speaks directly to media-saturated citizens terrified of losing their jobs. In a dystopian future, 80 percent unemployment and civic collapse have allowed the remaining corporations to form a pseudogovernment. Occasionally, it hires. Out of half a million job applicants, six are chosen, flown to a remote location, and put on the human resources equivalent of reality television. They're monitored 24/7 and have a sexually icy female hostess (because it wouldn't be a dystopian future without a dominatrix). They don't know how to win the job because they don't know what the anonymous people behind the cameras are looking for, but they're allowed to do anything to get it. The burning question that emerges is the question of our time: As we all become desperate reality TV contestants, what kind of person thrives? Which parts of humanity are doomed? It's a gripping trip. So many elements that shouldn't work — uneven acting, a script whose characters could better be described as "characteristics," and a set lacking personality — come together to form a compelling ensemble that is utterly engaging after 15 minutes. The Position, an original work by San Francisco playwright William Bivins, pulls you in and doesn't let go — until the end, which, without spoiling anything, is a copout. The Position doesn't have an answer for the question of our time — but it asks it better than most.

 
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