Chicago Theatre Review
Neo-Futurists cleverly reanimate two tales in ‘Pinocchio/Frankenstein’
By Devlyn Camp
The Neo-Futurists are always onto something funny and clever. Greg Allen, founder of the Futurists, writes and directs his newest work for their stage The Strange and Terrible True Tale of Pinocchio (The Wooden Boy) as told by Frankenstein’s Monster (The Wretched Creature). And oddly enough, that’s not his longest title produced. Juxtaposing the two tales, Allen examines the lives of two creatures made by man, searching for affection. By using the original Pinocchio tales, the story is un-Disneyfied and much more gruesome. Written through a realistic vision with a few funny, contemporary pop culture references tossed in, the Creature follows and mocks the hoping-to-be boy and criticizes his unwise choices. However foolish those choices may be, they’re freaking hilarious.
While Robert Fenton leads the journey with boyish charm and puns, the comedy is mainly driven by the supporting cast. The troupe shuffles through dozens of costumes, wigs and weird makeshift props. Dan Kerr-Hobert is outrageous as the randomly reappearing Geppetto and beyond uncomfortably creepy wagon driver, among other characters. His talent is matched only by the constantly changing Thomas Kelly, who turns roles on a dime. Each of their characters are funnier than the last.
Throughout the ridiculous retelling, various forms of puppetry assist the story. Basic hand, shadow and life-size puppets (containing actors) add to the bizarre nature of the play. Among many other absurd but effective methods of entertainment, the Neos provide silly string, fire, toy ponies, coffins for strangled puppets, and disassembled kittens. The Neo-Futurists are silly, ridiculous, aggressive, funny and so very smart. Pinocchio/Frankenstein is sketch comedy at feature length with a moral to the fable. While the ending isn’t quite right, it’s very overshadowed by the damn good two hours preceding it.
Through April 14, 2012
Tickets $10-20, available at neofuturists.org
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