BWW Review: 5th Dimensional Realness is REVOLUTIONARY at Theater For The New City
With the not so faint wisps of fascism blowing all around the world today, artists seem compelled to paint the future. Prasad Paul Duffy has written and directed Revolutionary with Theo Grace composing the score and lyrics. This show has been selected as part of Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival. Pursuing new works presented in non-traditional ways, the festival aims to push ideas forward and encourage experimentation.
An acoustic musical described as a work-in-progress, Revolutionary is set in New York City in the not so distant future. The rights and privileges of citizens have been taken away. Artificial Intelligence and cyber-automation have replaced millions of workers. Government has disabled the internet. People are being micro-chipped. In this bleak environment, a group of homeless kids struggle to survive.
Bethany (Izabel Dorst) is a whore for her pimp boyfriend Alex (Seth L. Hale). He tells her, "I really need to Elevate right now." She got double paid today so she's got the vape. He is planning a revolution. "It's all in the manifesto I've been writing." Without a hint of irony she replies, "Great. In the meantime, sing me a song." Transitions from dialogue to songs in this musical can be awkward.
Gabriel (Zack Triska) opens the show. He's a long-haired drifter type strumming his guitar and crooning about "Whispering Winds." We meet Wolf (Jordan Mahr) and Jedi (Henry Nwaru) who will soon be his best friends on this journey. He is introduced to Maya, an amazing psychic who reads Tarot cards and can channel Bob Marley. Maya (Kurt Bantilan) is transgender and sings "Open Human Heart." The others join in but I cannot explain why. Moments which first appear to be solos often morph into unexplained group numbers. The psychology of blind following?
A robocop arrives announcing that it's ten minutes to curfew. James McGonagle is inspired in this very small role with jerky physicality and a primitive, computerized voice. His moments are a tad silly in an engaging way. Soon Maya is dragged off to a FEMA camp and tortured. In this future, it certainly pays to be male. The only young woman is a prostitute and the only trans person is beaten up.
Everyone heads to the Source Center which is Ground Zero for the revolution. Mother figure Maitreya (Amanda Shy) bellows "we are revolutionaries of the new paradigm." In "Common Design" she sings "these family lines go farther than we know/Beyond ancient future times/And what we know are stories and signs/Blank puzzle pieces and hand me down minds."
The revolution will be achieved through mental means. Some think it's a cult. Others want to give it a try to see if they can utilize the crystal skull to escape the 3D material world and enter the 5D spiritual world. A bit of meditation is the best way to awaken The Fifth Dimension, the Oneness of Unity Consciousness. This is a thing. When I searched the internet, I saw a hyperlink to read more about "The Galactic Photon Belt."
Is Revolutionary attempting to be another dawning of the age of Aquarius? "You say you want a revolution. Well, you know. We all want to change the world." Occasionally a spoken line sparks a hint of something other than complete unquestioning sincerity for this metaphysical dreamscape. Telepathy is "like mental texting."
Revolutionary has romantic subplots and a few genuine surprises to keep things interesting. The cast does a very respectable job keeping this story moving along and providing chemistry to their underdeveloped relationships. The acoustical idea in the creation of this show feels right.
The ultimate goal for this musical seems to be New Agey reinvention of a more enlightened tomorrow. All humans will find happiness, peace and love. "We are spirits in the material world." (The pop song references are endless!) As this show develops further, more thought should go into connecting characters with the songs and their meanings. Every character should be able to answer the question, "why am I singing this?"
"When I see myself reflected in your eyes/the mystery collides/and destiny redefines." When that song finishes, Wolf says what perhaps we are thinking: "Okay. I've had enough of this shit. Let's go." Will the whole groovy gang eventually go 5D? Will love conquer all? Revolutionary is very seriously committed to its mystical vision. My eyes, regrettably, are wearing the wrong glasses.
Revolutionary will be playing at the Theater For the New City through September 15th.