Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 886
Y2K begins with Astrakhan in the spotlight on stage, stating that he is everywhere and on the hunt. Like the Greek chorus, Astrakhan introduces the play, explains the action, and concludes the drama.
Secret Service agents Orin Slake and Dennis McAlvane have taken Joseph Elliot to an abandoned warehouse that smells of dead meat in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Just as in classic spy thrillers when the person being interrogated is under a bright light, Joseph is sitting under a single bulb.
The two agents allow Joseph to call his lawyer but refuse to give him their names. Slake and McAlvane ask Joseph apparently nonsensical questions about names and whether he has had any contact with someone who calls himself ISeeU. Joseph says that neither he nor his wife Joanne is acquainted with anyone who has identified himself in that way.
Living Room Scene 1
Astrakhan declares that he can see everything and that no one can hide from him.
The spotlight moves to the Elliots. Joseph tries to tell Joanne about his interrogation, but she tells him about his daughter Emma’s receiving a crank call, which sounded as though it were in Joseph’s voice.
The lights return to Astrakhan. With increasing arrogance, Astrakhan states that he is a ‘‘Master of Downloading.’’ He admits to toying with others through his knowledge of computers.
As the action returns to the Elliots, Joseph explains his interrogation. Joanne reveals why she was unable to listen to Joseph earlier: she has had a run-in with her ex-husband, Francis Summerhays. An indication of Joseph’s mistrust of his wife surfaces as he questions her as to whether she is still in love with Francis. After Joanne reassures him, the couple embraces.
Astrakhan returns to the spotlight and gives details on Joanne’s history, including her supposed affair with Joseph while Joseph’s wife was dying of cancer. This is copyright of eNotes.
Slake and McAlvane appear in Joseph’s office, and their questions about his computer use turn into threats of arrest. An interesting fact in this scene is that Joseph apparently publishes books that might attract the attention of the authorities. The book Mapplethorpe (an apparent reference to the controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe, known for his homoerotic photographs) is one McAlvane thinks that Joseph should not be proud of. This gives possible support to Astrakhan’s later claim that Joseph loved the plagiarized pornographic story that Astrakhan submitted in class as his own work.
During this second interrogation, Astrakhan interrupts from time to time to explain how he targets someone through a computer. At the end of the scene, he claims that he had a lurid affair with Joseph’s wife after becoming one of Joseph’s students in a writing class. His memory, Astrakhan says, becomes ‘‘clearer’’ each time he goes over the details, which is a hint that perhaps he is embellishing.
This sequence is presented as a memory, but it is presented by Astrakhan; therefore, it is very likely that what actually happened is very different from what is presented.
Astrakhan arrives in the Elliots’s living room. He claims that he is fifteen but that drug use has made him seem older. Instead of finding this alarming, Joseph is flattered into thinking that he has been responsible for stopping Astrakhan’s drug use. Both Joseph and Joanne have read and are impressed by the pornographic story Astrakhan wrote for Joseph’s class, and Joanne is particularly delighted by its filthiness. Soon she is seducing Astrakhan by displaying herself unclothed in front of him. Joanne says that Joseph tells his students, ‘‘Everything you invent is true,’’ which seems to be something Astrakhan has adopted as his mantra. The sequence ends with Joanne’s rejection of Astrakhan.
Living Room Scene 2
Joseph is even more suspicious of his wife, for he questions her about a trip she took to see her mother. He explains how he unintentionally gave Astrakhan access to their identities. When Joseph talks about connecting to Joanne’s computer, it seems to be an allusion to his sexual possession of his wife, because he says that he found it stimulating.
In between drinks, Joseph tells Joanne that Astrakhan has usurped their identities and made her into a porno star and him into a child molester. Joanne immediately says that allegations of molestation against Joseph are ridiculous, but it is evident that Joseph half-believes the allegations against her. He produces photos, which she tries, unconvincingly, to discredit. Then Joseph tells her that Astrakhan has falsified records to make it look like he is the son of Joseph and his first wife.
Admitting that there is some truth in some of the things that Astrakhan has invented about him, Joseph tells Joanne he is sure that the situation is similar for her. Because they are penniless (Astrakhan has stolen all their money after stealing their identities), Joseph says that they are unable to follow Joanne’s suggestion that they hire a private detective to find Astrakhan. Instead, he suggests that she resign from her job as he did from his. His mistrust of her is evident.
Astrakhan ends the scene as the spotlight moves to him. He is triumphant that things will be as he remembers them.
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