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Monday, March 4

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Comedy Wed Oct 10 2012

The Neo-Futurist's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents gets my vote

44 Plays horiz 1.jpgWhether you're a Republican, Democrat, Green Party or Undecided -- but come on, decide already! -- The Neo-Futurists new show 44 Plays for 44 Presidents is sure to get your vote. The show -- which is a remount of the popular Neo production 43 Plays for 43 Presidents put on in 2002 -- documents US history by doing chronological shorts for every president that has worn the jacket.

The Neo-Futurists are on the cutting edge of experimental comedy and this show gives the audience a presidential-suite experience. Directed by Halena Kays, the show's use of set and energetic audience interaction made the presidential transitions easy to follow and engaging. My favorite scenes included some red balloons, a live video feed, and a bit about Richard Nixon.

There are a lot of ideas going on -- the show covers nearly 225 years of US history (yes, I did the math for you) -- and it hit the right marks for me. The writers are very smart in the comedy -- they don't trivialize things or make fun of sensitive topics. I mean, there are sections that are critical -- because, well, some things just need to be criticized -- but the show does this in a way that doesn't feel jarring or too political for the sake of politics.

While the show doesn't focus much time on each president, their lives are thoughtfully compacted -- the good, the bad, the I-didn't-know-he-had-a-mistress. The show gives a lot of information; it's kind-of like being in a really engaging history class (something that you'd see rich kids on TV attend). I liked how the show presented mini-biographies without trying to weave in some over-arching message. The history of the United States isn't always pretty, and I think it would be a little too confining to fit 200 plus-years into easily compartmentalized themes.

Some viewers may not like the experimental nature of the story-telling, but this type of theater is what The Neo-Futurists are known for and what allows the audience to extrapolate their own interpretations.

The cast is pretty awesome, and they easily transition from intense moments to more light-hearted comedy. They cry, laugh, cry. They are all super talented and didn't have any weak moments. I thought Ryan Walters and Dina Marie Walters were especially good.

How many presidents can you name? George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I'm sure, but what about Rutherford B. Hayes? Oh, I'm sure you can name them all, in order, and birth dates as well, but even if you (the other you) can't, the show will give you more than enough perspective and laughs to be entertained.

44 Plays for 44 Presidents is running on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 PM until November 10. There will also be Sunday shows at 3:00 PM on Oct. 21, 28, and Nov. 4. There is a special election night performance on Nov. 6 at 7:30. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students and seniors with IDs).

Arrive early -- the Neo-Futurarium's State Park has been converted into a basketball court where people can shoot some hoops (seriously, this part is really cool). Also, early-guests can test their political trivia. The Neo-Futurarium is located at 5153 North Ashland Avenue.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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