On the Future
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
October 6, 2012
The future is happening…right now…just then. The New York Neo Futurists, who generally have their minds and bodies deeply rooted in the moment, pull up their roots and plant themselves in the potential futures of humanity in their provocative and very funny new show On The Future
The show is a series of six short plays that examine our future from different perspectives ranging from a fortuneteller’s confession to the heat death of drag queens. The first play, penned by Eevin Hartsough, is a survival guide for the immediate future. It looks at some of our past strategies such as the ‘duck and cover’ campaign of the 50’s that was supposed to protect us from a nuclear blast and updates them in equally ridiculous ways. It is a good introduction piece to the rest of the evening. This is followed by one of my favorite pieces of the evening titled BOX and written by Adam Smith (who is also one of the performers). This one takes place almost entirely in the dark and astutely discusses the eventuality of a permanent blackout. Smith’s writing is extremely poignant and the darkness allowed my mind to conjure all sorts of images of a world complete devoid of electrical power. BOX is brilliantly abstract in places and fluently lucid in others. Next is Joey Rizzolo’s Tempus Umbra, which cleverly explores light versus shadow, time paradoxes and the beginning of the universe. Rizzolo does a great job juxtaposing some very straightforward and snappy dialogue with abstract action. His writing is very smart and the visually interesting action of shadow puppets and odd light sources makes for a cool experience.
The next set begins with Meg Bashwiner’s The Magnificent Meg Sees All. For this one, Meg crawls under a table set with two chairs. She then nudges a chair to beckon a brave audience member to come on stage and sit. Finally, someone takes her up on the offer and the play begins. Bashwiner, using a nice mix of written text and improvisation, discusses the history of fortunetelling in her family and asks the question “Can someone still be a good person even though they know they are a fraud?” I found this piece touching and funny. It is the heart of the show and earns its place smack dab in the middle. Up next is Ricardo Gamboa and Daniel McCoy’s treatment on entropy and how it pertains to gay culture. As far as I can tell they have nothing to do with one another and this piece doesn’t make a good case for it. Riddled with groan worthy pop cultural jokes, the piece as a whole is unnecessary but thankfully short. The final play, The Theoretical Physics of Procrastination by Christopher Loar, is probably the most mind-boggling of them all. Loar tells us that currently he is lying on a couch a few months ago not writing this play when he should be. The fact that we see him here is a product of his mind being lost in a seemingly endless paradox of time and space. Loar’s writing is confidently outlandish as the absurdity feeds the circular plot. The timing of the chaotic entrances and exits from other points in time is impressive to say the least and I loved the odd soundtrack and murky video that underscored the nonsensical humor and action. The one makes for an excellent button on the evening.
The ensemble, Meg Bashwiner, Ricardo Gamboa, Christopher Loar, Daniel McCoy and Adam Smith, are enormously endowed with charisma. Their dedication to each piece lends the show a cohesiveness that is much needed in a production of short plays. The short videos in between some of the plays starring director Rob Neill and Cecil Baldwin also add to the cohesiveness while at the same time they are very funny and well shot. Taken together these plays (and videos) make for the unique, mind-bending and hilarious experience that I’ve come to expect from NY Neo-Futurists. On The Future should not be missed…now…or in the near future.