New Hope City
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
February 12, 2010
One of the reasons I love the theatre is because of the way it brings so many elements of art together. I love the way writing, acting, music, and visual art combine to create a singular piece of art and when given a multimedia show like New Hope City this is even more prevalent. But this production not only brings the arts together—it also brings together good friends to do something they love doing, and that is what is most evident in this show. I left the show longing to be a part of something similar.
The creators of this show are a local Bushwick outfit call Pass Kontrol, a versatile four piece rock band with a sound that ranges from catchy, lo-fi garage punk to spacey electronic shoegazing. The band sounds great in the intimate Bushwick Starr black box. Frontman/guitarist O. Ralli, drummer A. Brown, keyboardist T. DeLorenzo, and lead guitarist M. Visser are excellent musicians and they play a tight set. They also act with a decent amount of skill.
The band opens the show with two songs, one that represents the apocalypse in which the world of the play is born, the other the reconstruction in which they live. All the while there is a video collage of the death and subsequent rebirth of our world projected on a large screen behind the band. New Hope City is a tightly controlled world built by mega-corporation MediaCorp. Two "skeevy dudes" Lucas and John live in New Hope City but quickly decide to leave in search of a lost pop star turned half-robot. Their journey, marked by many bizarre encounters with mutants, cyborgs, and fancy rats, takes them to the "outskirts," a place where people are free to be themselves.
I think that's the message here—be yourself. There are clear themes of anti-consumerism and anti-corporatism and also more subtle comments on art and culture, but these guys are doing their own thing and that's what it's all about. The overall look of the production is low-budget/high-tech, kind of like community theater meets a basement rock show. Pass Kontrol creates a world all their own. The program comes with a glossary of terms they use in the show such as a future drug called spacebox and the mystical number swiez. The dialogue is quite clever. "Be careful what you breathe," one character says, "and whatever you do don't touch the sludge." I laughed a lot, especially when they went off-script and improvised. Throughout the show, the scene changes are covered by short commercials of products such as Noodle Product, Fart Beer, and SnowMania. The video production is consistent with the low-budget look of everything else and some are pretty funny. All of the music in the show are Pass Kontrol tunes but in the end I wished I had heard more of the band playing live.
New Hope City is an experience that you won't soon forgot. The sense of community is intoxicating. They even encourage their audience members to dress up in futuristic outfits (if you do you'll get a free Fart Beer) and to come down onto the stage and dance to the last number (and then get the heck out of the way for the curtain call). The theatre is less than a block away from the subway stop so make the trip out to the "outskirts" and join this community of artists being artists in the purest sense. You won't regret it.