In a room hung with blue and purple crushed velvet curtains, an actor, Matthew Korahais, plays an electric organ with one hand and gestures to a half-open coffin shaped like a Hostess Ho Ho. It’s a coffin for kids who die young from tasty, nasty things—he sings this in rhymes, his face semi-sad. He’s hilarious.
Korahais’ little scene is a comic interlude in Doomocracy, a house of real-life horrors created by artist Pedro Reyes, directed by Meghan Finn, and written by Paul Hufker. The show is a string of immersive theatrical spaces (a guided maze inside the Brooklyn Army Terminal) intended to shed light on current “political landscapes… and apocalyptic torments.” It was timed intentionally to coincide with the actual horrors of halloween and election day.
Reyes, represented by Lisson Gallery, has previously melted down guns in Mexico to make shovels, which were then used to plant trees; more recently, with the project Disarm, he used parts of confiscated weapons to make musical instruments. In other words, he’s no stranger to overtly political, activist art.
People who love interactive theatre like Sleep No More will be pleased; people looking for an easy way into our complicated modern conversations about identity, politics, and the environmental future will also be pleased—but it’s really hard to combine the simplicity of immersive theatre presented in this way, in three-minute vignettes, with the nuance required for a lasting effect or a longer conversation.
But the horror show format—shock after shock—is perfect, because it ends up feeling like a litany of issues, which is exactly the point. Abortion rights, police brutality, environmental destruction (in VR), oxy-abuse, elite money, and education-as-mind-control are all covered.
The whole show is beautifully executed and impeccably organized from door-to-door: an incredible feat for thirteen stages and more than eight shows a night. The sets are detailed without feeling over-crowded, and the acting is light, funny, and (best of all) rarely feels pushy, which can be hard when actors are soliciting audience involvement.
Pedro’s creation is free, thanks to support from Creative Time, the amazing organization that brought us Kara Walker’s sugar sphinx (Creative Time, and this show, is supported by money from the Ford Foundation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, among others). Doomocracy also brought in nearly 90k from a Kickstarter campaign.
The bad news is that Doomocracy is currently sold out: the good news is you can still attend (with a friend) by becoming a member of Creative Time, which is a little steep for entry at $300, but supports their wonderful work and future endeavors.
Images: Sugar Coffins, Will Star/Shooting Stars; Lady Liberty, Rachel Miller.