"Rise of the Numberless" (Bailiwick Chicago, The New Colony): Musical Mayhem!

"Rise of the Numberless" (Bailiwick Chicago, The New Colony):  Musical Mayhem!

#90.  Arriving at the Flat Iron Arts Building, we’re greeted by a guy looking like a runaway cast member of “Hair.”  He passes us off to another colorfully-clad guy.  They welcome us like friends and then covertly usher us up to the third floor.  The theatrical experience has begun.  At reception, we are stamped with a Q-R code and offered earplugs.  What to expect when two theatre companies unite over a revolution?  Musical Mayhem!

Bailiwick Chicago and The New Colony present the world premiere of RISE OF THE NUMBERLESS.  In an apocalyptic future, the United States is enforcing population control.  Each family can have one kid.  That child is embedded with a numbering device.  Any other children conceived will be killed and their parents imprisoned.  To save their +1 offspring, families send them to pods below ground.  The children survive and thrive as scavenger outcasts.  It’s the 25th Anniversary of the revolt that occurred in the 25th Anniversary of the One Child, One Nation movement.  To commemorate the milestone, the numberless are holding a concert in tribute.  RISE OF THE NUMBERLESS is “Gattaca” meets “Hunger Games” at a Foo Fighters concert.

The basic story, written by Andrew Hobgood, Patriac Coakley and Evan Linder, captivated me.  The future government’s definition of *family values* is shiver-inducing.   You had me at ‘implant.’  I get it.  I believe it.  It’s the retelling of the rebel story that I had trouble following.  These future characters are playing themselves and/or playing a rebel group in present day.  They also play future people from 25 years ago and 50 years ago.   WTF?  And w = who!  Even the program, cleverly developed as revolutionary propaganda, doesn’t help me sort out the who is who?   Who are you people?  I want to get know you and understand your story.

Director Hobgood stages it tense with lighting (Mac Vaughuy) and audio (Harrison Adams).  The Flat Iron Arts Building brings its own abandoned-building type atmosphere.  The room is primarily dark with a hand-held lighting apparatus identifying the focal point and adding to the intrigue.  The building’s skylight is even incorporated into an interactive scene.  Seeing the lights and hearing helicopters, I was ready for the raid.  The cast is surprised their locale has been discovered.  Not me!  It’s loud.  Rock concert loud!   And the cast is adding to the percussion with some solid stomping.  I can see the authorities coming… seriously, be careful!

RISE OF THE NUMBERLESS is a rebellion against the establishment.  In its current form, the vibe is more concert than story.  The cult-in-the-making is perfect for its Friday and Saturday timeslots for twenty-somethings and young thirty-somethings wanting to hang out and make some noise.  But I think there is something more here that could appeal to a broader audience base with some story refinement and sans earplugs.

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee

Written by Andrew Hobgood, Patriac Coakley and Evan Linder

Original music by Chris Gingrich and Julie B. Nichols

Lyrics by Chris Gingrich and Andrew Hobgood

Directed by Andrew Hobgood

Fridays at 7:30pm and 10pm

Saturdays at 7:30pm and 10pm

Thru May 26th

Buy Tickets at www.numberless.org

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