The New York Neo-Futurists have a forbidding name and their work more or less fits under the dicey heading of "multimedia performance art" — and yet it's hard to imagine a more companionable bunch. Anyone expecting an ensemble of grim, hectoring artistes spouting manifestos and slapping themselves with raw meat can relax. The Neo-Futurists are challenging without being confrontational and smart without being pretentious. Their hospitality even extends to serving mini-margaritas to the audience, a practice I can only hope will spread like wildfire throughout the downtown theatre community.
The group's approach is both highly theatrical and emotionally direct. In (Not) Just a Day Like Any Other, the actors play themselves, and each of their stories focuses on a single pivotal day in their lives. The result is a playful, hyperverbal, constantly shifting investigation into the vicissitudes of luck and fate. Christopher Borg tells of being raised in a Mormon home by adoptive parents and how his outsider status as an arty gay kid fueled his search for his birth mother. Jeffrey Cranor ruminates on a close female friend who abruptly disappeared from his life and married someone else. Kevin R. Free describes the death of his mother in a car accident and his childhood dream of being the next cute black child on Diff'rent Strokes. Eevin Hartsough chronicles her wedding-related anxieties, which relate not to the prospect of marriage itself but to the endless planning and heightened expectations surrounding the Big Day.
In a sense it's documentary, but documentary that's been chopped up, arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns, and supplemented with ukuleles and endearingly primitive video effects. The company displays the unity, intimacy, and near telepathy of a good improv team; I wouldn't be surprised if they can finish each other's sentences.
Presented by the New York Neo-Futurists
at the Red Room, 85 E. Fourth St., NYC.
Nov. 6-22. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.
(212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, or www.theatermania.com.