Saturday February 24th 2018

” The Antelope Party” reviewed by Carol Moore

 Recommended *** Make no mistake, Theater Wit’s “ The Antelope Party” is not for the faint of heart.  Don’t be fooled by the cute little pony in the advertising.  Although it is billed as a dark comedy, I saw a lot more ‘dark’ than I did comedy.  The ‘party’ is political, not social, and it’s a very scary, neighborhood version of fascism.  The cast does an excellent job with a difficult subject.  3 Spotlights

Playwright Eric John Meyer has written an interesting, intriguing allegory.

Ben (Edward Mawere), a gentle soul, hosts the weekend meetings of The Rust Belt Ponies Meet-Up Group.  All of the available space in his apartment is devoted to his collection of “My Little Pony” tchotchkes.  Ben and his four friends, the Bronies (adult fans of the children’s TV show, “My Little Pony”), are devoted to the values of the show – trust, compassion and friendship.  In reality, the Bronies are five introverted misfits looking for acceptance. 

Shawn (Will Allan) is neurotic, paranoid, and easily manipulated.  He can’t seem to fit in anywhere, but the other Bronies accept him.  Shawn’s problem is that he can’t be moderate.  If he’s enthusiastic about something, he takes it way too far.  Because he’s been bullied, he’ll be the first to bully others when he’s in a position of power.

Jean (Mary Winn Heider), who saw an online post, was attending her first meeting.  After listening for a while, she decided this wasn’t the right group for her.  She said she’s been hiding since 9/11, looking for other conspiracy theorists.

Doug (Evan Linder) and Rachel (Annie Munch) are both quiet introverts committed to the Rust Belt Ponies.  She is stubbornly determined to do the right thing, at least until she feels threatened.  He is freaked out when he sees Maggie, who was wearing her pony ears in public, forced into a car.  When Maggie (Anu Bhatt) finally does arrive, she insists that it was no big deal, that it was her cousin in the car, but Doug is still deeply suspicious of the Neighborhood Watch.

By the following week, members of the Neighborhood Watch are wearing orange hats with antelope emblems.  Maggie arrives for the next meeting wearing the costume of Princess Celestia.  Although Shawn thinks she’s perfect, the others are upset because she’s breaking their rules.  Shawn sulks when the others won’t do what he wants.  Maggie badgers everyone into signing a pledge for the Antelope Party, which her father started.

The Antelope Party believed in an alternate reality.  One of their leaders said something to the effect that to choose the future we must choose our past.  Their enemies were all dogs and coyotes.  According to Shawn, who joined the ruling council, Maggie’s father, who started the movement was removed because someone accused him of leaking.  Women were not allowed into the party.  In a lot of ways, “Antelope Party” reminded me of another allegory, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. 

“The Antelope Party” runs through February 24th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago.  Parking is available for a fee in  the Kubo Restaurant lot  across the street.  Valet parking is also available on weekends.

Running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes, with an intermission.

Performances are:

Thursday  8 p.m.

Friday  8 p.m.

Saturday  8:00 pm

Sunday at 2:00 and 7:00 pm.

Tickets range from $24-$38.  FYI (773) 975-8150 or www.theaterwit.org.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Antelope Party”.

 

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