Corrugated metal covers the theater’s walls and ceiling that hang with old-fashioned light bulbs. The floor is industrial gray. There’s a ladder leading to a window. A refrigerator prominently figures in the actions and from which characters enter and exit. One marvels at the brilliance of scenic designers Christopher and Justin Swader’s intimate bunker setting that evocatively serves as a New Mexico doctor’s office, an advertising agency and inside a character’s mind. The audience sits on one row of benches on two sides of it and facing it on three rows of benches. After taking in this alluring landscape, Then They Forgot About the Rest begins.
Playwright Georgina Escobar presents an exuberant hodgepodge of sci-fi elements and satirical corporate bits with a feminist slant. Ms. Escobar’s punchy pseudo-scientific dialogue carries her choppy scenario with its shades of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to sustaining the mildly entertaining 80 minutes. Escobar has a command of language, sprinkling catchphrases that land throughout. Early onset, end of days, extreme memory vetting, protein inhibitor and Petro Corp all get a lot of mileage. It doesn’t all gel, vagueness abounds but there’s spirited integrity. “…I’m asking improbable questions seeking impossible answers,” Escobar states in her program notes.
Think of the past as a concert. Every time we access a memory, our brain becomes the conductor of an intricate symphony. It brings out the strings of emotion. Accents the brass of Taste and Smell. It inundates us with the percussive body that makes up mood, and sensation.
In this fantasy world, parts of the United States have sunk into the ocean. We meet a woman depressed over the death of her young daughter in a traffic accident. Her tough advertising executive sister argues with her against taking the pharmaceutical remedy “Alleviate’ which is a medication that erases memories. A wily doctor is around to explain everything and wildly interact. These actions alternate with the exaggerated goings-on at an advertising agency. There are flashbacks, fantasies and apocalyptic trimmings. The significance that Escobar resolutely finds in her treatment may be lost on some of the audience. Its humor and profundity are debatable.
The animated cast of Danielle Alonzo, Maki Borden, Mindy Escobar-Leanse, Renata Friedman, Jacqueline Guillén, Gabriel Marin, and Elizabeth Ramos all offer vigorous characterizations, charmingly realizing their exaggerated roles.
Director David Mendizábal’s energetic staging colorfully renders Escobar’s epic vision with theatrical flair. Lighting designer Cha See alternates from the house lights being on, to moody darkness for optimum effect. Composer Enrico de Trizio’s atmospheric original electronic score and bracing sound design suitably complement the piece’s fantastical tone. A marvelous detail of Asa Benally’s puckish costume design are the big multicolored buttons on the doctor’s lab coat and there are some neat futuristic survivalist getups.
Then They Forgot About the Rest is the second portion of a trilogy (with Sweep and The Shepherds of Arcadia) and it solidly stands on its own.
Then They Forgot About the Rest (through May 12, 2019)
The Radio Drama Network
INTAR Theatre, 500 West 52nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.intartheatre.org
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission