HISS HISS BANG BANG
Four writers stand onstage and in unison announce their thesis, “We thought that making a show strictly about our poverty and history of abuse would make us severely unpopular… so we decided to splice our story with a science fiction narrative about snakes.”
So begins Flying Snakes in 3D!!, a campy multimedia romp by Everywhere Theatre Group, a scrappy young company that, like Young Jean Lee and Vampire Cowboys Theater Company, uses pop culture vernacular for sociopolitical critique. True to their proposition, the play is essentially a parody of comic book action films peppered with self-conscious confessional laments.
”My father abandoned me when I was three and both of my older brothers are in federal prison in Florida and my mom suffers from emphysema,” one character grumbles to another in an argument before the two are offed by flying snakes that have been hidden behind a shrub. Later, the flying snakes kill the wife of Dr. Frank Sheckles (Jen Taher), a hopped-up scientist with a Hitler mustache, who acrimoniously blames his female colleague Dr. Inis Goodheart (Lindsay Mack) for the death.
At first it seems that the two scientists had injected some “harmless river snakes” with a secret serum, one which would be used to make soldiers “super strong so they sleep less, eat less, shit less, sweat less… and fly,” – not unlike superheroes, the play slyly suggests, connecting the dots between our fascination with spandex-wearing champions and Nazi experimentations to produce the master race in one rather brilliant stroke. But then four superheroes that look more like the Village People turn up to battle the snakes, and a psychic superhero reads Dr, Goodheart’s mind, revealing that the snakes had actually been spliced with the genes of rich people that caused them to attack poor artists.
But while the tongue-in-cheek parody of an action film provides much of the plot, the play ultimately attempts to satire dreams of fame and success. “Look guys! I won a Saturn Award for directing the movie version of Flying Snakes in IMAX 3D!” a company member crows, as the cast gathers to sing, “The dream is in our hearts.”
Selfploitation is an interesting concept, but the various elements in Flying Snakes in 3D!! are just too dissonant for the play to cohere into a resonant social commentary. In one particularly jarring juxtaposition, a writer’s candid monologue about her love for theater is spliced with a histrionic scene in which the two scientists accuse each other of creating the killer king cobras.
But at a brisk sixty minutes, it’s all in good fun. The play features imaginative video sequences by Chase Voorhees and you even get to pelt the actors with rubber snakes. It just doesn’t have much in the way of venom or bite.
photos by Chase Voorhees
Flying Snakes in 3D
Everywhere Theatre Group at The New Ohio Theatre (part of the 2012 Ice Factory Festival)
scheduled to end on July 7, 2012
for tickets, call 212-868-4444 or visit http://www.NewOhioTheatre.org