From the press release I am told that “The Fool (returns to his chair), ” the Neo-Futurists’ latest, “…presents an abstract history of fools through the ages…from Western Romantic fools and Russian Holy Fools to the trickster Gods, ancient tarot traveling fool, and Bugs Bunny.” In addition, in interviews creator and co-writer John Pierson has stated that he “…wanted the challenge of presenting a visual and musical piece with minimal spoken word that is highly entertaining yet provides emotional weight with historical context.” This translates into a pre-show performance prologue where you might have the privilege of holding a peeled banana dipped in peanut butter as another performer on all fours blows a wad of crumbled paper around the auditorium floor. Later, to the tune of “Mr. Bojangles,” a Neo-Futurist will attempt to pour a drink from a pitcher of water that has been scotch-taped atop tiered milk crates resting on his head and shoulders. Another Neo rambles some stream-of-consciousness monologue about celebrities (“I wonder how Brad and Angelina drink a latte?”). And the piece de resistance sees the entire ensemble regurgitating red liquid from their mouths onto each other and their pristine white plastic jumpsuits. My companion summed up his experience as akin to “talent night at the mental institute.” Besides the Bugs Bunny bit, which I got, I didn’t know what to make of this. I don’t have to love a work of art in order to appreciate it. Hell, I don’t even have to like it as long as I can make some sense of what it’s trying to say intellectually or accomplish artistically. I try to remember this each time I encounter something that could be termed “experimental”—from Karen Findley to elephant-dung stained depictions of the Virgin Mary to yes, the Neo-Futurists. But here the storytelling is muddled, the imagery is not memorable, and the overall execution so sloppy—I oftentimes had trouble discerning where one vignette began or ended, if it mattered—that all I could gather from “The Fool,” even with the added benefit of a press release to explain it all for me, was that it was one of the most pointless, self-indulgent, in your face and gross for gross sake “experiments” that I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
At the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, (773)275-5255. Thu–Sat 8pm. $10-$15. Through September 29.