Jeff is a computer jockey plagued by a recurring nightmare in which he can't tell if he's a human who thinks just like a computer or a computer programmed to think like a human. Jeff could be any one of us, of course, any friend of a friend: In Andrea Mock's one-woman show Brain in a Box, he's a cog in the wheel of UNIX Reseller, Higher Technologies, an Emeryville company that got its start selling packaged food and canned air to doomsday cults preparing for the millennium. Jeff's boss Joan, who hires people based on their astrological signs, recruits UC Santa Cruz aesthetic studies graduate Lilly Leightner because of her Virgo alignment; Lilly accepts Joan's offer of an administrative assistant job because she needs the money to support her dream of becoming a choreographer equal to Martha Graham. Mock, a member of the Speakeasy Theater, knows from her own experience as a LAN administrator and technical writer in Emeryville that this scenario will sound painfully familiar to a lot of local people. Expect to find the malice and absurdity that didn't go into Mock's computer manuals in this show, which offers something for starving artists, visionary bosses, disgruntled programmers, and the people who deal with them. The workshop production of Brain in a Box begins Thursday at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 19, with post-play discussions April 16-19) at the Speakeasy Theater, 2016 Seventh St. (at University), Berkeley. Admission is $5; call (510) 845-4100. (H.W.)
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