Children of the Future Age
nytheatre.com review by Heather Lee Rogers
March 28, 2012
In Calliope Theatre Company’s debut production, Children of the Future Age, three runaways find refuge from the rough outside world together while waiting for the messiah-like arrival of the dead artist/poet William Blake. The performances for this limited run take place at the Theater Lab, with the white-washed space stretched wide in a shallow and intimate playing area. The set (designed by D. Schuyler Burks) is a room festooned with sheets of white plastic like you would see blocking dust at a construction site and various areas of debris, making clear that the characters are squatting here.
The play begins with the boyish Tyger (played by the flat-out captivating Will Dagger) laying a trap by putting out a Kit Kat bar on a string, the end of which he holds while hiding under a plastic tarp in dim light. When the starved and feverish character who comes to be called “Mouse” enters and seizes the chocolate, Tyger pounces on her. They fight nastily and during the struggle she starts vocally wielding the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer at him like an invocation. When the third character, Cole, enters during this altercation she immediately passes out. Cole believes he is the prophet of William Blake and is hiding out with Tyger, as he waits for signs and channels visions in anticipation of Blake’s impending arrival.
The trouble is that, like most prophets, Cole (played by Raphael Sacks) has a benevolent charm and powerful presence that neither Tyger nor Mouse can resist wanting to be near. Tyger has considered himself the one and only “First Mate” of the apartment and doesn’t appreciate having to share his “Captain” with this new intruder. Mouse (played by Molly McAdoo) feels safe living with Cole, likes learning about Blake and isn’t going to leave without a fight.
Children of the Future Age is written and directed by Knud Adams. The play relies on the emotional journeys and relationship dynamics of the characters to carry it forward since they are just waiting around while negotiating living together most of the time. There isn’t much of a plot beyond the set-up. It is also unclear why they are waiting for the poet or what they hope will change when he arrives. Fortunately the detailed acting work delivered by each fully-present member of the cast was enough to keep me interested.
Children of the Future Age is meant to be enjoyed as a unique, multi-level, theatrical experience. With very limited seating running along the perimeter of the space, being in the audience feels like sitting inside of an art installation. You are in the characters’ apartment, right in their private space as they fight, get hurt and get inspired. For Cole, Tyger has written music to William Blake’s poems which he and the other characters sing and play on an acoustic guitar (music composed by Nick Lerangis). Also there is a gallery of artwork by Ted Chapin in an adjacent room inspired by Blake’s illustrations and the industrial revolution which you may see before or after you attend the show. There is plenty to be fascinated by in Children of the Future Age which only runs until April 1st. Buy a ticket in advance and catch it while you can.