A Science Fiction Spectacle Dance Party Play
By Joe Tracz
Directed by Mary Rose O’Connor
Produced by Lights Out Theatre Company
At EP Theater Chicago
Futuristic dance party comedy parodies science fiction genre
The folks at Lights Out Theatre Company sure have loads of chutzpah for mounting the world premiere of Joe Tracz’s Song for a Future Generation. This is a weird play that tries to be many things, comment on several themes–and–it almost succeeds. To say that Tracz’s comedy is part sketch comedy, part melodrama, part space romance with blasting disco music and three funky new-wave ensemble dance numbers wrapped up in a parody is to say too little. This is an off-beat 75 minute play that nearly works and with some adjustments could be a hoot.
Let me explain: we are blasted out of our minds by mind-numbing pop/rock music as we enter the theatre. It is not smart to alienate a portion of your audience–us older theatre patrons. Next, the early scenes are important to help us gather and accept what is happening. Unfortunately, the combination of the underscoring pop music being much too loud and the three clone Marika’s speaking too fast and, at times, to soft-made much of the introductory information too hard to hear and understand. That’s an easy fix–turn the sound down and have the woman speak slower and enunciate stronger. (By the way, speaking too fast and running words together is a tenancy of the 20something generation. My theory is that it comes from cellphone use. Maybe, that’s why I refuse to have one?)
Next, the show could use more clarity. The action moves from a party set in the future inhabited by a strange group of weird characters: a fighter pilot (Bobby Libby) and his eager-to-party friend (R. Alex Kliner); a shape-shifter, a bounty hunter, an escaped convict and the galaxy’s last living rock lobster. There are simply too many characters and too many stories going on to hold us. I got lost early on.
Tracz needs to trim and refocus more on the time traveler, Error (Jonathan Matteson) and his search for the girl of his dreams lost in a time warp. The three Miraka’s (Andrea Decamp, Haily Wineland and Annie Ludia Litchfield) could have had more story development also.
Lastly, too much screaming and shouting goes on when emotions are expressed. Jonathan Matteson has just the right tone as he deftly expressed his anger, frustration with ample emotional intensity as the charming, totally innocent time traveler. His speech was crystal clear. Bobby Libby (except for his atonal singing) was empathetic and truthful as the fighter pilot trainee. Nice work.
The party movement and dancing (choreographed by Anna Lucer0) was expertly designed and well danced by the entire ensemble. These movements underscored the parody and added a nice entertaining touch.
In Conclusion, let me state that much of the humor was lost by the frantic pace, loud music underscore and the sloppy timing of set-ups and punch lines. I’m sure that’ ll get better as the runs continues. The frequent tone changes and mixture of performing styles needs to be sharper with clearer transitions. I’m like to see this show sporting a more biting, edgy tone by all to highlight the satire and wit of the piece.
Don’t let my nit-picking keep you from seeing this ambitiously entertaining work. It is a fine date night show that the 20-30something crowd will enjoy. And at only $15 per ticket, it is an entertainment bargain!
On several levels, Song of a Future Generation lands a complex and convoluted work into a fun 75 glimpse into the future of parties. Kudos to the young artists at Lights Out Theatre troupe for stretching boundaries. They had some cute moments and they will get better. The sheer energy and raw talent of this cast will impress you.
At EP Theater, 1820 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL, tickets $15 -$10 industry, special industry show on Monday, March 1 & 8, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through March 13, 2010