Tuesday , May 21 2024
An exuberant cast and great dance numbers can't bring this futuristic comedy fully to life.

Theater Review (NYC): Song for a Future Generation

Joe Tracz's sprawling Song for a Future Generation almost can't fit into the little UNDER St. Marks Theater. With a big cast, loose structure, and exuberant staging, the play calls on the language and culture of science fiction, 80's New Wave pop (hence the B-52's-derived title), and big-group choreography to tell a couple of interlocking stories set in a future peopled by planet-hopping party animals (one of them an actual animal). In the process it comments glancingly on today's youth culture ("we're a whole generation with too much technology and no idea who we are") and politics (a dream-planet composed of warring red and blue gases).

Three clones who look nothing like each other present one of a number of amusing sight gags. The theme parties they host on various worlds in various elements provide the backdrop for the action. In the foreground are a time-traveling man named Error looking for a lover he once cruelly abandoned; a couple of bounty hunters seeking an escaped convict who has a strange paramour; and a young man celebrating his last free night before going off to starship trooper training, who falls for a lonely psychic.

She, in turn, has come to the party only for the occasion: to watch the star they're orbiting explode. The sense of time running out is palpable throughout, in the star's looming death but also in Error's waning time-travel ability and even in the clones' slightly desperate string of parties as we learn what's behind their incessant good cheer. But that doesn't add up to a theme; it's too diffuse, like stardust.

Out of this colorful panorama a variety of entertaining elements and some affecting scenes bubble up, but never coalesce into a focused narrative. The strange result is that you feel like you're laughing sometimes, and being visually entertained almost always, while being simultaneously bored. The extremely talented cast and crew give their all and do the very best they can with the material, which simply isn't up to the level of talent on stage and behind the scenes. Standouts among the almost uniformly excellent cast include Tara Giordano as the most bubbly of the clones, whose amazing energy kicks the dance numbers into overdrive; a sympathetic Nick Lewis as Error; and Joshua Conkel (the author of MilkMilkLemonade and other plays), who is not usually seen on stage but is silently hilarious here. The choreographers deserve kudos, as does director Meg Sturiano, who manages to keep all of this moving despite the halting script, and the designers of the sprightly sound, lighting, and costumes (the last by Conkel). But in the end, this is one party that never fully ignites.

Song for a Future Generation runs through May 15 at UNDER St. Marks.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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