Anyone who has attended a production of The Neo-Futurists knows that once one enters the “theater area ( or is it theater? area) anything can happen. This is a company of wild, creative people who tend to become very interactive with the audience, and their current production, “The Sovereign Statement” continues to follow their “mission “. This “play” written by Bilal Dardai and Directed by Brandon Ray is close to two hours ( they say 110 uninterrupted minutes) of mayhem and political intrigue as the theater itself becomes a “micro nation” and we, the audience become the citizens of this new nation, with its own anthem and even a flag and slogan ( which we get to vote on. In fact, from the very start, we are taken away from our actual location on the border of Andersonville to a station of some sort where we line up and get our passports stamped, our five voting cards and a playing card ( these all come into play later).
We are then escorted into the theater area, where we sit on three sides of the stage area and once we are seated, the story begins. Creator, Dardai greets us with his monologue about being an American but of Pakistan and then Phil Ridarelli enters to meet with Bilal as per his request. They banter for about ten minutes about the whole concept of the government and why many micro-nations are indeed popping up. Dardai, as it turns out is the mastermind behind another of these such “Sovereign States” and the fun begins. Phil becomes our leader with the aid of his staff: Jen Ellison,Clifton Frei, Gwynn V. Fulcher and Mike Manship. They are all part of the grand scheme that has been planned, but we, as yet are not aware of.
There are many little political games for the rest of the show including some people being asked to leave the room. I for one have no idea where the “offstage” people really go and if they are watching what we are doing during this time or are having their own little play, but I must say that the laughter fills the room for almost the entire time of the play . We, the audience get to vote of items ( using the five votes until they are gone makes for a rough ending for the audience)- flag colors; who we want to leave the room. This is just FUN! with a very capital F.
While the show does examine what brings a nation down, what causes people to be anti-government, power and survival, it is mostly just a fun time for those in attendance. I tend to think the players have just as much fun as we do and that each performance, based on audience votes will change some of what takes place, leaving the intrigue and mystery, but of greater importance the comedy. This is not a show for everyone as there is some fast moving areas and of course, some people have to leave the theater. In the long run, it is a show that will be more thrilling to those who are young and young at heart and those who just like to have a good time!
I was amazed at the strength of the actors/performers in this production. In particular, Phil Ridarelli, most impressive as the leader of this new nation, a man who cares about his people and his nation and does a great dance number ( worth the ticket price just for this number). Speaking of tickets, this is a General admission show $20 ( just a bit more than a movie for LIVE THEATER and students and seniors, pay only $10 bucks). “The Sovereign Statement” will continue through November 23rd with performances as follows:
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays are pay what you can afford. To order your place in this new country, call 773-275-5255 or visit www.neofuturists.org
The theater is located at 5153 N. Ashland Ave ( second floor), at the corner of Foster and there is street parking, some free and some metered on both streets. There are also lots of great dining spots in Andersonville.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com,go to Review Round-up and click at “The Sovereign Statement”