Monday, October 31, 2016

Review of The Neo-Futurists' Saturn Returns

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Saturn Returns. It was created by Tif Harrison, and it was directed by Jen Ellison. It was written and performed by Harrison, Kurt Chiang, Lily Mooney, Kirsten Riiber, and Andrew Tham. It was about a group of friends talking about their lives and contemplating the idea of a Saturn Return, which is basically when you are about 29 and Saturn is going to be in the same place it was when you were born. It is supposed to be that a bunch of bad things happen to you and a bunch of really big changes will happen. I though this was a really great show and it really made me think a lot about memory and change. The show isn't really about astrology, it is more about friendship and about everybody's 29th year.

When I walked in, I thought it was going to be a play about Saturn. But Tif tells you, like in the first five minutes, that if you were expecting science, well then she's sorry. The play was funny, sad, and weird in a good way. One funny part was when Lily was talking to Tif, and Tif asked her if she saw any bugs during her twenty-ninth year of life. And Lily said that she had; she saw a moth at the end of her Saturn year and it meant a lot to her. And at first you thought that she was just goofing around, but later you see how much it actually meant to her. I think the funniest thing was the penny-throwing, music-box-winding, yelling extravaganza that Kurt did. He was asked questions by an audience member and during his thought process he wound up a music box, threw pennies from a fishbowl against the wall, and yelled into a megaphone. I have no clue why he did that, but it is kind of like my own thought process. If someone asks me something that is kind of awkward, my brain goes into panic mode. It has a moment of being kind of calm, then getting kind of angry because you are wondering why anyone would ask a question like that, and then the panic.

It wasn't all hilarious, though. There were some sad and moving parts. There was this one part where Tif was having a flashback to the day after her father's funeral and she was at a store that had animals, candy, and toys--kind of a weird selection, but that was the store. It was where her father bought all her birthday presents. She saw this red tractor, and her father had bought her a red tractor, that exact tractor when she was a kid, several times. She reflected on when she was a little kid and she got the red tractor and she got really mad at him because she thought he didn't know what she liked. And she realizes that he was just trying to be a good dad without knowing how. You could see how she wanted to get to know her dad better than she did. And that is sad because she isn't going to get to because he's dead. Kirsten had a really tragic story as well. She talked about her brother who had killed himself. She kept his backpack and she said that it was the most valuable thing that she had. I thought that was very sweet because a backpack wouldn't usually be very valuable to anyone, but this was very special to her because it was her brother's. It was completely filled with new notebooks and pencils, which showed how sudden it had seemed to her because he was ready for school and then he decided he couldn't do anything anymore. I think maybe he felt useless, like an unsharpened pencil. Like he couldn't do anything with the way he was. That makes me feel very sad and depressed that somebody feels that way.

Neo-Futurist plays are often very weird, but in the best way possible. A bunch of people dressed up as different bugs, like moths with tape over their mouths and bedbugs with sunglasses. There was a lot of movement in the show and I found the hand movement piece that Andrew led weird but beautiful. It was a lot of repeating movements and they all had different names. Like there were goggles. And there was another motion that was like twisting your hands halfway and bringing it out to push a button kind of. It kind of reminded me of sign language because every move seemed like a form of communication. There was also a game where they asked Tif questions and wanted her to answer as her mom or as herself. And if she took too long to answer, she got splashed in the face with water. I found that to be a very weird punishment, but also hilarious.

People who would like this show are people who like red tractors, getting splashed in the face with water, and panic pennies. I thought this was a beautiful show. I was captivated the entire time, and I loved it. People should definitely definitely go see this show.

Photos: Joe Mazza at Brave Lux

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