We are all capable of changing the world. Or at least our little corner of it. So says Gone Fission, or Alternative Power, a high-spirited performance of street theater presented by Theater for the New City. The play uses its exuberant score to remind its audiences -- young and old -- that if people want change, then they must stand up and make that change for themselves. The play centers on a young man in search of employment, having just quit his position as a mechanic, which itself was a replacement job for his initial career in finance. He realizes that he cannot do a job in which he feels he is taking advantage of people or being taken advantage of himself. Rather, he wishes to be able to do some good in the world. His friend suggests he apply for a job as a census-taker. Upon acquiring this new occupation, however, our hero receives more than just a paycheck. Rather, he is taken on a journey through New York City and the rest of the east coast, confronting a great deal of this nation's problems as well as plenty of its goodness.
The piece is punctuated with catchy, if at times kitschy, musical numbers. The players all assume a myriad of zany roles, from assorted immigrants, to celebrities, to sea life. The play uses these figures to tackle serious political and environmental issues through humor and charm. There is an episodic quality to the work, but the lessons learned by our census employee tie all of the episodes together. He needs to meet all of these people in order to learn something from them and, eventually, to be affected by his experiences.
The work is uneven. Some sequences are cleverer than others and the story is often so extreme that it becomes difficult to follow. Without the more entertaining aspects, this play could seem preachy or overly didactic. Luckily, there are plenty of laughs to be had and the protagonist is a very likable individual. The performers are all to be commended for keeping their energy high throughout. Their message is easier to swallow because of all the fun to be had throughout the show.
Overall, Gone Fission is a unique and enjoyable work of theater. It touches on important subjects while ultimately being able to entertain. This play makes for a fine summer hour spent outside watching a play. Anyone can find an aspect of this play to enjoy. In addition, he or she may also learn something in the process.