Amazon with its drones and Alexa is the chief target of this acidic compendium of glorified sketch comedy-style scenes with social media getting royally skewered as well. The ostensible plot is imparted through the exaggerated comic sequences.
In this madcap universe, passengers on a jet are caught in a space warp known as a “corn hole” that was caused by Amazon’s tampering with the atmosphere to speed up delivery times, Amazon is developing a female sex robot, and an insidious virus is unleashed. This pestilence manifests itself by causing people to become “furries” where they identify as animals and wear appropriate physical embellishments. The population has internet chips implanted in their heads, “Blow Hole” a cross of Facebook and YouTube is the prime communications platform, and “twats” go viral on “Twatter.”
Making periodic appearances are radio show host Alex Jones who puts on an actual tin hat to proclaim his outlandish conspiracy theories, televangelist Jim Bakker and his wife Lori, a vociferous female right-wing female commentator à la Fox News, and the leader of the furries, Goatse. There are references to the southern border wall, liberals verses conservatives and some pop songs, the most prominent being Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.”
Sophomoric? Profound? Both? “I have a gun in my yoga pants” is in its context a very funny line.
Co-authors Nadja Leonhard-Hooper and Dan Nuxoll relentlessly sustain their epic vision with their forceful, detailed and smart writing, totally capturing science fiction conventions with an antic spin.
Shaven-headed and wearing a white body suit, the alluring Kelindah Schuster is very Kill Bill as Mia the AI sex robot. Bearded Nathaniel Kent’s wacky bluster authentically evokes Alex Jones and he’s suitably weird as Goatse. With Second City gusto, Ben Fine vividly enacts the mentally unraveling jet’s captain and Jim Bakker’s wily essence. Fierce Lexie Braverman’s feistiness does wonders for her turn as a caustic hyper-intelligent scientist. Jenna Rubaii is supremely vicious as the telegenic right-winger. As the uproariously vulgar and garishly clad flight attendants, Kev Berry and Emily Via are sensational. Rory Spillane’s low-key presence is appealing as the involuntarily celibate nerd.
The comedy and embedded thoughtfulness of the piece are realized by director Nick Flint’s virtuosic staging that artfully melds the broad performances and accomplished technical elements into a stimulating presentation. Natalie Lomonte’s balletic movement direction adds vivacity to some splashy production numbers and enchantment for Mia.
Scenic designer James Hunting’s gleaming white sectional panels, spare furnishings and collection of wheelie chairs starkly convey the desired fantastical dimension. The chairs get a lot of clever use especially when we’re in the jet.
Before the show begins, the audience is treated to video designer Scott Fetterman’s arresting spacey imagery that’s projected onstage and then throughout. The continuous footage of people, animals, both celestial and nautical, is all quite entrancing.
The unison of David Shocket’s shimmering lighting design and Brendan Aanes’ palpitating sound design is transporting. Costume designer Kenisha Kelley’s fantastic creations playfully visualize sci-fi characteristics with witty flair.
“Our vision as a company is to create bold, athletic new works of theater for audiences that transcend the ordinary, transport the spirit and embrace the magical” is from the mission statement of OYL (One Year Lease Theater Company). Their vibrant production of Eat the Devil definitely achieves these aims.
Eat the Devil (through March 9, 2019)
OYL (One Year Lease Theater Company)
The Tank, 312 West 36th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit http://www.oneyearlease.org
Running time: one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission