The Neo-Futurist Revenger's Tragedy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Neo-Futurist Revenger's Tragedy 

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THE NEO-FUTURIST REVENGER'S TRAGEDY, Neo-Futurarium. Inspired by their unstoppable romp Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, Greg Allen and his never-say-subtle Neo-Futurists have now seized on Cyril Tourneur's 1607 potboiler. Its plot, rife with incest, rape, fratricide, parricide, torture, and prostitution, is as amoral as a Republican campaign. The work cries out for deconstruction.

Ten actors sit below signs proclaiming their names and parts, and when a character is killed, his or her name is crossed out with red chalk. A guide interrupts the action to explain the exposition, define obscure words, take questions from the crowd, and display some pungent quotes on placards. As the guide dryly explains, "In deference to contemporary taste, we will depict all violence onstage." Thus the murders in The Revenger's Tragedy--which involve beheading, dismemberment, evisceration, garroting, neck snapping, stabbing, and impalement--are presented in cartoon-crude form, each corpse neatly tumbling into a body outline traced on- or offstage.

Mostly Allen's retro-pseudo-neo tragedy is fun, the play's misogyny travestied in Dave Awl's broad drag and its intricate plot athletically executed with awesomely precise abandon. Cutting through the hysteria is some sharp acting, from Lusia Strus as the implacable bastard avenger and Greg Kotis as the dithering Duke. But at nearly three hours, The Neo-Futurist Revenger's Tragedy takes a toll. Even the jokes get weary: this would be twice as funny if it were a third as long. Too much shtick makes the mind go blank.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Alexander Newberry.

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