Playwright Ken Ferrigni, who has had his plays produced in California and Florida, as well as New York, has come up with a dark comedy that takes computer hacking and reprogramming to new levels. Mangella's cast of three men and one woman get caught up in a virtual adventure that takes place in one day.  I spoke with Project: Theater's artistic director, Joe Jung, who directs.
 
Hi Joe.  What would you say about Mangella?
 
I like to describe it as a "cyber-thriller."  As for the writing, it's sort of like Sam Shepard were 20 years old, in the internet generation.
 
Fill me in.
 
Basically, it's about this low-rent computer hacker in Southern California, named Ned.  He shakes down Asian porn sites, using his slightly out-of-date computer.  He's created, in his own mind, this computer companion.  In the play, the computer is personified.  Her name is Gabriella.  And it's a needy, trusting, completely fulfilling computer.
 
So the computer is female, and a character in the play?
 
Today, everyone now sees their computer as a companion, a personal friend, a lover.  Internet porn is ridiculously huge.  People play their video games and get their satisfaction from their computer.  They interact with each other all the time, social networking.  The can play poker or kill people on their computer, and feel good about it.
 
Tell me more about Ned and what he's up to.
 
Ned.  The reason he's doing these Internet hacks is because he's trying to restore the memory of his father, who's had a number of strokes, and thinks he's this fictional blues musician from the '40s, Mangella St. James.  Ned is living in his own world, with the computer relationship he has; and Mangella lives in his world, this blues legacy he thinks he's left behind.  But they collide with each other.
 
Give me an example.
 
Ned, in order to recreate the father-son connection, is always quizzing his father about things that have happened in their past, using family photos and movies.  When Mangella says the right answer, he gives him a prize.  Now on this particular day, Ned will give his dad a prostitute, to satisfy his lust, and also to create a trusting connection and bond.
 
Is this where the female actor fits in?
 
Now Lily enters the picture.  She is really the fantasy girl that perhaps all isolated, single, unimpressive 35-year old men might find in their minds.  She's strong and beautiful and assertive, and she knows what she wants.  She turns everyone's world on its head.  She gets between Ned and his girlfriend computer.  She has a life-changing scene wth Mangella; she creates a huge bond with him.  With Ned, she reveals that she has a dark secret, that makes him have to decide whether or not he will continue on his path, or do a complete 180 and change his life around.
 
How would you sum it up?
 
It's very dark and very funny, but it creates a very fantastic world; and, at the same time, it's rooted in human need.  It has a deep root in human relationships, and the deep need that people have to communicate, and have relationships with each other; a feeling that often gets numbed by our relationships with our computers.
 
The Drilling Company, 236 W. 78th St., (212) 868-4444. Oct. 12-23. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $18.