Future Anxiety

By Laurel Haines
Directed by Jim Simpson
Featuring The Bats (resident acting Flea acting company)
The Flea Theater, 41 White Street
production web site:  http://tinyurl.com/5rzfme5

April 15, 2011 — May 26, 2011

Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
April 27, 2011

  • “I can’t find my pants, but I’m fine.”
  • “If your allergies match mine, I think we’ll be a very good fit.”
  • “I’m happy being a slave.  I’m not responsible.”
Ugo Chukwu (as Karl) and the company. Photo by Richard Termine.

Black plastic sheeting covering slightly springy stage area over which the audience enters on plywood walkways, treading through suspended platform playing areas to reach the seating at the far end of the performance space.  House music features occasionally melodic ape-like gruntings.  Welcome to Future Anxiety, the current offering by the young resident company at The Flea Theatre in Tribeca.

In a near-future world of interior spaces and a destroyed environment, a throng (it feels like a throng) of young people tell their stories.  We learn that all the characters (or many of the characters) have been “revived” from cryogenic sleep and need to be educated on the new lay of the land.  This is Woody Allen‘s Sleeper with a tendency toward earnestness rather than humor, within a patchwork quilt of stories.  Our host and narrator  Karl (Ugo Chukwu) brings us in and leads us out of this world of loss and acceptance and human emotions and hope for the future despite all the odds.  An allergy-plagued, self-effacing, socially stunted, sweetly haunting young man films a video dating profile — “If your allergies match mine, I think we’ll be a very good fit.”  A man sentenced to a form of re-education under an East Asian androgynous guard who rebuffs freedom when finally offered — “I’m happy being a slave.  I’m not responsible.”  A woman in a line receiving a single square of rationed toilet tissue learning the meaning of community and collaborative survival.  Few vignettes overlap.  A kind of post-apocalyptic cabaret with a great deal of direct address and some thrilling and chilling acting moments.

[Note: due to the sparse “green” in-theatre program strategy of the theatre — all needed information is present on the web site — I felt hampered in taking sufficiently detailed notes to credit highlighted performances above.  I do support the “green” strategy.  How about a listing of the scenes with actors involved to help the audience track along in the cabaret’s progress?]

© Martha Wade Steketee (April 29, 2011)

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