A energetic and fascinating ensemble piece, Yippie! blends fact and fiction to create a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of Jerry Rubin’s Youth International Party of the 1960s. In a “what if?” take on the Chicago 1968 riots, writers/directors Randy Anderson and Harrison Williams look at the darker side of what happens when even flower children can take a life in the name of revolution, albeit perhaps unintentionally.
The play is segmented in scenes that go back and forth in time to before and after the riots, from when the freewheeling energetic men and women get stoned and talk of bringing down The Man; and afterwards, when they are all brought in for questioning/trials for the accidental death of one of their own, who the police want to blame on leader Jerry Rubin. In between there are group musical numbers, and plenty of physicality by the ensemble, who work well together.
The staging was great, as were the use of the actors in a myriad of roles including simply holding the flashlight on another and becoming the interrogator. It was these moments that stuck with me the most; Morgan Lindsey Tacho as Nancy, Jerry’s girlfriend, was most memorable and her work was simply executed and exciting to watch. TJ Roberts in the lead role made some fine choices, but the actor’s continued grabbing of his crotch became, for me, more of a distraction than a character impulse. All in all the actors took the work and had a lot of fun on stage, and that’s always a joy to see, because the enthusiasm spills over into the audience.
One of the more memorable moments involved Jane and John Doe being confronted by their aunt; who is nothing more than a dress, shoes, hat and gloves that are moved/voiced by the ensemble. It was a great device as well as a metaphor for the perceived emptiness of the minds of the previous generation by the youth of the time whose mantra of “never trust anyone over 30” was uttered by the characters in the same breath of the play’s mantra “a movement that isn’t willing to risk death isn’t for shit!”. It’s small moments like that that add up to a solid piece.
Yippie!, while pushing the envelope on provoking thought as well as audience reaction, manages to, for the most part, deliver the goods on turning history on its ear and making what could have been “just another hippie play about revolution” into a really entertaining evening.
THIS SHOW HAS NOW CLOSED.
Written and Directed by Randy Anderson & Harrison Williams Presented by The Beggars Group Brooklyn, NY
The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street) $16
Wed 2/23 @ 9pm, Fri 2/25 @ 8:30pm, Sun 2/27 @ 1pm, Thu 3/3 @ 9pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 7pm
FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.