Rolin Jones’ play from 2005 might be the only finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in drama that includes the line, “Fuck you too, Mr. Arm.” So it has that going for it. Also, it is a bona fide digital-age comedy, with a script that traffics in the syntax of emails and instant messaging. (The show is currently in athletic and buoyant production directed by Cecilie Keenan for Collaboraction at Chicago Dramatists.) The emailer in question is science wiz Jennifer Marcus (an empathetic and fruitfully manic Jennifer Shin), whose pertinent details come out in a non-stop, rapid-fire tumble of words. Agoraphobic. California. Twenty-two. Gated community. Adopted from China. She is a gyrating tomboy with the attention span of a fidgety 7-year-old, and she is the epitome of all Hollywood techno-geek clichés. Her workaholic mom (Laura T. Fisher) is suffering through failed-parent syndrome because her kid can’t leave the house, while dad, an amiable, non-confrontational type (Ron Butts), is content to hang out on the roof with a pair of binoculars looking for brushfires. Meanwhile, up in her room, Jennifer is hunched over the computer tracking down info on her birth mother. Unable to jet to China herself—damn that agoraphobia—Jennifer builds an android doppelganger instead. Jenny Chow is her creation (played with blank-eyed wit by Mia Park), whereby Jennifer is transformed into Dr. Frankenstein in hipster gear and ultra-short bangs. She has no idea what (or who) she has created.Beneath the gloss and spry humor of the piece lies something more complex; Jennifer’s physical disconnection from the world mirrors the chasms within her own sense of identity. It is a rip-roaring ride that doesn’t end so much as stop—like a computer that has crashed. (Nina Metz)
“The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow” plays at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 West Chicago, (312)633-0630, through April 1.