News Ticker

Manufacturing Mischief

An intellectually stimulating and quite witty comment on technology and its power to do harm.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Karl Marx, Tiny Trump, Noam Chomsky, Elon Musk and Ayn Rand in a scene “Manufacturing Mischief” (Photo credit: Sham Sthankiya)

[avatar user=”Joel Benjamin” size=”96″ align=”left” ] Joel Benjamin, Critic[/avatar]Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and a “Tiny” Trump all on stage at the same time, verbally jousting with each other?  Pedro Reyes’ Manufacturing Mischief at the Tank does, indeed, throw these historic figures together in a play that is intellectually stimulating and quite witty as these giants tear each other apart.

These characters are portrayed as brilliant puppets provided by Christine Schisano, and manipulated and voiced by a terrifically skilled cast that includes Ms. Schisano, Victor Ayala, Mery Cheung, Julia Darden and Christina Stone.

The play opens at Elon Musk’s “Elite Expo – Intellectual One Percenters Welcome (Only) – Brought to You by SpaceX (and other dark forces of the underworld)” where an artificially generated Steve Jobs materializes to host a contest for new Artificial Intelligence devices where Chomksy, linguist/dissident, is head judge.

Karl Marx in a scene “Manufacturing Mischief” (Photo credit: Sham Sthankiya)

A student of Chomsky, Millie Persistington has invented a Print-a-Friend machine which causes a totally hideous Ayn Rand to be re-animated when her Atlas Shrugged is casually tossed into the device.  She joins with Musk, here portrayed as one step away from total villainy, to plot to steal that advanced technology so that they could dominate the world.

Along the way, a rapping Karl Marx puts in a hilarious appearance to criticize the overwhelming new religion of the mighty dollar. Tiny Trump whom Jobs calls “a gross fucking moron,” to the delight of the audience filling the Tank theater, materializes after someone pees into the Print-a-Friend.

The power of technological advances and fake news to do harm becomes potently clear when puppet Chomsky muses about the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning chemist Fritz Haber whose contribution to cheap fertilizer not only helped humanity but then was distorted and used to kill millions in gas chambers. Could Print-a-Friend be used to resurrect Adolf Hitler?

Noam Chomsky, Millie and Elon Musk in a scene “Manufacturing Mischief” (Photo credit: Sham Sthankiya)

Reyes’ ideas, with the help of Paul Hufker’s writing contributions are sophisticated commentaries on morality, technology and politics that are always buoyantly expressed without ever talking down to the audience.

Meghan Finn’s direction keeps the fast-paced dialogue from descending into aural chaos.

The plain set—a curved brown wall with cutouts—could use some beautifying, but the lighting of Brian Aldous, the musical score by Mike Cassedy and the video/sound effects by David Pym are all first rate.

Manufacturing Mischief (through June 24, 2018)

The Tank, 312 West 36th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-563-6269 or visit

Running time:  70 minutes with no intermission


Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

About Joel Benjamin (563 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.