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Dystopia Gardens (Fringe Festival 2011)

by Lina Zeldovich on August 21, 2011

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Dystopia Gardens: Soylent Green meets Sleeper.

Ladies, gentlemen and other fellow Fringe enthusiasts, Will Nunziata and Jerry Sean Miller do it again: with their hilarious multi-media one-act, they instantly drop us into One World, a place allegedly so polluted that people live inside humongous domes and savor food pills. “Allegedly,” by the way, is the keyword.

A cross between Soylent Green and Woody Allen’s Sleeper, Dystopia Gardens is a futuristic fantasy that bears a strange reflection of our own reality. One World is led by an almighty leader, who wears a diaper and gets cloned periodically, his brain transplanted into a younger body. The only problem is, he seems to grow more and more delusional with every iteration. The domes are collapsing, the food pipes get clogged, but he is happy as long as he gets his banana cream. Oh, and he’ll cheerfully sign anything into law for the treat.

Needless to say that requires a certain amount of toughness to keep the citizens in place. “You’re watching us, we’re watching you,” says the shiny TV screen on which two brain-dead anchors deliver what’s considered news in Domes society. Everyone must wear the same white robes, love the leader and reproduce by means of bodily fluids exchanged through plastic tubes attached to their genitals. If they produce a child who asks too many questions, the child gets electrocuted early enough for the parents to start over. “What are the food pills made of?” inquires one overcurious fledgling who just doesn’t want to be like everyone else. “People,” his dad replies, incapable of comprehending his offspring’s shock and dismay.

The coming of age doesn’t go well for Adam Applegate who gets zinged by his own father – but manages to survive the deadly volts. Moreover, he miraculously finds a way out of the dome and discovers that there is a beautiful world outside the dome where trees grow and flowers bloom. The question is, can his Song of Angry Men (in the key of Les Misérable) get the citizens of One World to follow him – and can he live to see the liberation?

Dystopia has come a long way since the duo first presented it at The PIT theater last year. It lost a bit of sarcasm, built up more drama and turned a series of mini stand-up comedy skits into a human story. Grant and Julienne bump into each other at the DMV – Department of Marital Vows – and the computerized matchmakers accidently pair them up. They turn out to be a match made in tyrannical heaven – they even agree to break the rules and ditch the fluid tubes in favor of the banned good ol’ sex. But their happiness doesn’t last long. Grant decides to join Applegate’s rebellion meeting and things go awry.

If you ever wanted to know what our global-warming, polluting, WTO-governed future may bring but were afraid to ask, visit Dystopia Gardens at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street NYC.) See for yourself whether two citizens of Our World can play about two hundred dystopian characters in under two hours. You may laugh harder than you ever have. After all, One World’s broadcast makes Fox News sound real.


Dystopia Gardens
Writer: Jerry Miller & Will Nunziata
Director: Paul Stancato

1h 15m
VENUE #5: Dixon Place
Thu 25 @ 7 Sat 27 @ 2





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