By Barbara & Scott Siegel
The British called their working class theater “Kitchen Sink Drama.” One is tempted to call the new American play created by the Neo-Futurists, “Everything Except The Kitchen Sink Drama” because in a brisk 90 minutes of playful, often-times tongue-in-cheek cheekiness, this young company of players puts on a show that tries to put everything but the kitchen sink into their show called The Great American Drama.
There is, indeed, something distinctly American about this show; it’s all about reaching for the brass ring. They periodically speak of creating art during the course of a crazy quilt presentation of moments that range from pandering to poignant, and from silly to sincere, but the aim is to create a hit. How do we know this? The concept of the show is to give the audience exactly what it wants via an ongoing survey and then satisfying as many of those requests as possible. For instance, their survey told them that audiences want a show no longer than 90 minutes: hence the length of the show. The audience wants nudity; they get nudity; they want tap-dancing, they get tap-dancing. And so on.
The show is at its worst when it turns pretentious, reminding us over and over again how much these theater folk are giving up to create their work. Once would be enough. But the show is at its best when it’s truly free-wheeling, audacious, and not taking itself so seriously. The show is also at its best when the young actor who conceived the show, Connor Sampson, is holding forth; his co-stars, Dan McCoy, Nicole Hill, and Katy-May Hudson also have their moments. Unfortunately, their musical director/singer/sometime actor, Lijie Y is a distinct negative – neither her singing nor her acting brings much to the table.
There is one other very important element worth noting about this Neo-Futurist experimental production: it is taking place at a brand new theater space that looks like it will be an enormous boon to Off and Off-Off Broadway productions. Located in the general vicinity of the theater district, the A.R.T. NY Theatres is a spanking new theater complex just west of 10th Avenue on 53rd Street (a block south of Ars Nova). Spacious, with two state-of-the-art theaters, it will offer subsidized homes to a total of 21 theater companies from The Transport Group to the Ma-Yi Theater Company, as well as the aforementioned Neo-Futurists. And that is both a happy beginning and a happy end!