If you have no anxiety whatsoever about the future, then go see Future Anxiety . If you worry about the future of humans and this planet already, this play is still for you. The Flea Theater’s new sharp satire features a talented cast, a dynamic set, and plenty of jokes that will make you want to laugh and recycle, simultaneously. From Patrick Metzger’s well placed animalistic noises to Kyle Chepulis’s stream-lined, multi-level set, Future Anxiety immediately sets up an environment. It is the future, and it is not quite what we expected. We are never told the exact year, but we explore this new era through a variety of interconnected storylines. The large cast is excellently directed by Jim Simpson. It is the ensemble’s character development, choreographed movement, and sense of timing that keeps the play moving. Each and every one of the twenty-three person ensemble is like a gear on a fine watch: each individual part is strong, and when you put them together you get a solid piece of work. The actors of The Bats, the resident acting company at The Flea, have an obvious comfort with each other, adding to the coherence of the world on stage.
As I said, there are no weak actors, but I particularly enjoyed Sonia’s (Katherine Folk-Sullivan) storyline. In a place where we often laugh at the absurdity of things, Sonia keeps us grounded in the reality of the human condition, without killing the joke. This delicate balance is well executed by Folk-Sullivan, and I especially enjoyed the easy friendship between Sonia and Mae (Maren Langdon). These scenes bridged the gap between the two major ways of coping with the new world, and I appreciated both actresses for their honesty and connection. The other storylines each have their own memorable characters and moments, which you will just have to see to discover for yourself.
Laurel Haines’s script can seem didactic at times, but weaker moments in the script are enlivened by the actors’ dynamic use of the stage and their bodies. In a script that is so over the top, the movement is clean and streamlined, without being overly stylized. I never felt that actors were moving unnecessarily, or that the overall visual balance of the actors’ placement on the set was off. This embodied energy is especially useful to less developed characters, like Vince (Alex Herrald). Vince is an obviously ruthless business executive, who we first meet as he climbs around the various platforms and wires. We learn he is descending from a tree, which we believe immediately. This decently funny moment of the script is brought to another level through the clever use of space and physical acting. Such moments occur throughout the production.
This unity of visual aesthetics extends beyond the stage at The Flea. The theater has gone green in more than just their theatrical season. They now feature online programs, biodegradable cups for drinks, and recycling options. This commitment is another example of their attention to detail on a grand scale. As the two actors giving the curtain speech explained this paperless process, I thought again of how fitting it is to introduce the new system in this way. The cohesiveness of each element of this production was striking.
Future Anxiety is a decent play, but The Flea’s production goes above and beyond its script. This production manages to create a funny, aesthetically engaging play, which also has an important message. Jim Simpson’s precise direction, The Bats’ solid acting, and the wonderful design make Future Anxiety a great night at the theater. So see it soon, because you never know what the future holds.