Flying Snakes in 3D
Everywhere Theater Group
The Ice Factory 2012 at the New Ohio Theater
written & directed by Leah Nanako Winkler & Teddy Nicholas
Thursday, July 5
The gentrification of New York's theater scene gets confronted, tackled, and beaten in this rough comedy of politics and passion. Everywhere Theater Group opens Snakes with a set of monologues by the creators, direct-address style, explaining that their company are survivors of bad neighborhoods and worse parents. Without connections or pedigrees, these young artists aren't just struggling to make art, they're actually and literally struggling to survive in Bloomberg's New York. Through their show, they aim to express the righteous fury that novaed too briefly in last fall's Occupy movement. Thus galvanizing opening, a political manifesto laced with friendly humor, admits what most Off-Off-Broadway theater tries to hide: its poverty is more a result of disenfranchisement than thwarted ambition or absence of talent. It sets the audience up for a punk-like show that won't aspire to look like the Establishment work uptown.
Once the play itself starts, however, it fails on this count. As a broad burlesque of summer blockbusters, Snakes hints that the creators want to stage an impossible piece of theater. But most of the action―like those soaring snakes of the title―is actually on video, not live. Ironically, the filmed, edited, and CGI-ed projections (courtesy Chase Voorhees) are the strongest facet of the whole show. The script, on the other hand, over-exposits its B-movie conventions. All along, it recognizes how mainstream theater exploits music, realism, and a desire for money and sex, all to manipulate the audience's sentiments. But recognition and subversion aren't the same thing; too often, and especially at its heartfelt action climax/curtain number, Snakes buys into the same conventions. ETG intends to be great on its own terms, but it needs to tighten its act and get truly subversive to undermine the system.
Flying Snakes in 3D, part of the 2012 Ice Factory at the New Ohio Theater.