MIRTH 'QUAKE' Remember the very first episode of ''Friends''? Remember Rachel arriving at Central Perk in her wedding gown, having just abandoned her groom at the altar? Remember when Joey shot at Phoebe with a nail shotgun, and Phoebe retaliated with a plasma gun, while Chandler took them both out with a rocket launcher? Don't remember it that way? You can see such a version this Saturday, when the 1994 pilot episode is re-enacted as an online game of ''Quake III Arena,'' with six heavily armed players getting blown away while reciting the dialogue via the game's instant-messaging system.
The ''Quake/Friends Project'' is the work of Joseph DeLappe, an artist and professor at the University of Nevada at Reno. He staged a similar reading of a ''Friends'' episode during a ''Quake'' match in October, but this one will be staged in front of a live audience, with six large monitors to show each player's perspective, which should result in Monica and Ross getting mowed down repeatedly by other online gamers who unwittingly stumble onto the staged reading. The event will be filmed digitally and webcast live from DeLappe's website on March 8 at 7 p.m. PST.
DeLappe tells the New York Times that both ''Friends'' and ''Quake'' offer ''a fantasy, a simplistic view'' of existence, both take place in a closed environment, and both put their characters into hostile situations but allow them to suffer ''no real consequences.'' One critic, the author of the forthcoming book ''Internet Art,'' tells the Times that she likens DeLappe's project to the public, semi-improvised ''happenings'' of the 1960s. Her name is -- we kid you not -- Rachel Greene.