Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review of The Antelope Party at Theater Wit

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Antelope Party. It was by Eric John Meyer and it was directed by Jeremy Wechsler. It was about a group of friends who were all big fans of My Little Pony and would make up stories and role play and cosplay as their favorite characters. There is a neighborhood watch who are trying to "clean up" the town and make it more "normal," so that basically only people in the Antelope party are safe. When the Bronies dress up, if they go outside, what they are doing is seen as criminal by the neighborhood watch, even though they aren't doing anything wrong. It is about being who you are no matter what other people say you should be, using a false front, and the dangers of the patriarchy. I thought this show was intriguing, kind of terrifying, and I had never seen anything like it before.

The show starts out with a bunch of friends, Shawn (Will Allan), Ben (Edward Mawere), and Rachel (Annie Munch), doing what they love with basically no problems. They are talking about their feelings and why they are happy to be together. They are admiring each other's cosplays (costumes by Karen Krolak). Shawn is Pinkie Pie, with terrifying anime eyeglasses. Ben is Fluttershy and has rainbow suspenders with wings and is altogether absolutely adorable. Rachel is Twilight Sparkle who had a unicorn horn and sparkly leggings. All they want to do is get on with the game, when Doug (Evan Linder) shows up in his Rainbow Dash sweatshirt and says Maggie (Anu Bhatt) has been kidnapped by the watch. This haven for all of them has been disrupted by this watch, which wants to control their behavior even though it isn't hurting anyone. They have a visitor named Jean (Mary Winn Heider) who thinks the Brony group is a front for a 9/11 conspiracy theorist group. But when she gets there, it is not. But the group is so excited to welcome a new Pegasister that they kind of forget to ask why she's there. Even though it seems like the groups are like the opposite of each other, they actually have lot more in common than you may think. They both make up scenarios and they both are hated by the Antelope party because they are not sticking with what the Antelope party thinks the truth is. Bronies are basically saying everyone should be friends and if everyone is nice, things will be fine. The 9/11 conspiracy theorists are saying, if we find out the truth, everything will be fine. But the Antelope party says if you follow us, everything will be fine. But their attraction is based on people's fear and love of power, whereas the Bronies are trying to be there for one another because basically their motto is "Friendship is Magic," which is the name of the tv show.

When Maggie comes back to the group, she talks about the Antelope party and how she found out that her dad is a leader. She tells Shawn what really happened in the van, and he becomes her confidante and they get together. Maggie and Shawn have a toxic relationship because she is responsible for getting him to join the Antelope party. But it ends up being that he gets more into it (and out of it). Because the group is sexist he starts treating Maggie even worse and he gets all this credit for things that Maggie should be getting credit for. At the beginning it seems like Maggie is manipulating him, but he ends up manipulating her. I think it is really interesting to watch the person who was victimized become the victimizer. The Antelope party changes over the course of the play. When the young people join it, everything becomes heightened. It was never a good idea, but it became like this organization to take over the world with white supremacy and sexism. The same situation happens with Shawn as with the Antelope party. He is telling all these stories about how he is the victim and he is doing the right thing, but he is actually the powerful predator instead of the meek prey.

Something that I was confused by but have a theory about is why they used Bronies as a vehicle to tell this story. This is a play that is not just about Bronies; it is about white male supremacy and fascism. At first, I was confused as to why they used Bronies as the oppressed group instead of a minority who is famously and more severely oppressed. I have never seen a play about Bronies, though I have seen a lot of episodes of the My Little Pony tv show in my youth, and I think it is interesting to use Bronies because they are not a minority you think of immediately. There is no reason to oppress anyone, but people still do it, even though people know it is terrible. And using Bronies in this play as the minority heightens the craziness of the fascism that Antelope party is trying to implement. How can you hate My Little Pony or people who just want to watch and talk about it? They aren't doing anything wrong. It is not weird or sexual or creepy. They just want to be enthusiastic about a tv show. And it reminds you that there is never any reason for anyone to be oppressed.

People who would like this show are people who like not-always-magical friendships, plays about fascist Antelopes, and terrifying anime sunglasses. I think that everypony should go see this show. It is such an absorbing story. Everything--from the fabulous acting, to the set packed full of paraphernalia and references (by Joe Schermoly), to the sparkly costumes, to the strange sense of menace that you feel throughout the play--draws you in. I loved it.

Photos: Charles Osgood

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