Jennifer Haley's drama The Nether posits a certifiably creepy, uncomfortably plausible near-future in which the internet has evolved into a vivid virtual-reality realm called the Nether. There, users can explore fantasies from the comfort of their recliners. The play pivots on a police investigation into a lurid usage of the Nether by a man named Sims, who created a pedophilic pleasure garden. Sims' Peter Galman anchored Area Stage's unsettling production. He played his "offline" self, combating an interrogation in a spartan police station with unctuous evasiveness and his online avatar, a foppishly dressed proprietor of degenerate escapism. By offering both a cunning manipulator and a diseased man, Galman achieved a remarkable feat: He convinced the play's audience that Sims' virtual vileness had a preventive merit in the real world. Even if you think you hated everything he stood for, he was spellbinding enough to win every debate. If prison weren't possibly in his future, perhaps politics could be.