Fans of Philip K. Dick will feel right at home with the convoluted sleuthing going on in this clone-centered 2026 dystopia, but they may be unsettled by the cheesier-than-Max Headroom presentation and a self-satire that's running on fumes from the get-go. There's plenty to laugh at--in fact, there's nothing else to do with 8 Little Antichrists and its puppet overlords--but there's unfortunately not much to really care about.
Reviewed by Aaron Riccio
If 8 Little Antichrists is supposed to be taken seriously--which it might seem, if you've seen the first two parts of the trilogy--then it has some very hefty problems. Thankfully, Flux takes it only as seriously as it needs to--and the thought of black-winged angels facing off bloody-horned heroes in California, 2028, is already sort of ridiculous--and takes a tongue-in-cheek approach that lets us suspend our disbelief in a cheesy Max Headroom sort of future.
The hero this time around is a Philip K. Dick-brand detective, Claudia (Candice Holdorf), who is investigating the death of her clone sister, Sara Jane, only to find that there may be more to the murder than she suspects. Along the way, she falls for one of the suspects, Jeremy (Zack Robidas), but not before he is kidnapped by fallen angels Sem and Zaz (Felicia Hudson and Elise Link, channeling a fashionably authoritative Mod Squad vibe) and forced to resurrect the octuplet antichrists, cloned from the Dahmers and Gengis Khans of the world. To make things more convoluted, the clone mother is Claudia's Mama (Nora Hummel), a self-obsessed nag who lives in a nutrient-pumping vat and dreams of the day when she'll have sold enough of her offspring to upgrade. Oh, and Jeremy's paranoid sister, Melanie (Rebecca McHugh) has actually found the vessel of God in a happy meal--if only she can pry it away from the Clockwork Orange-like drizz-heads, Thump and Fibber (Jake Alexander and Joe Mathers, high-octane comic relief). Cue the over-the-top action.
8 Little Antichrists is the most creative of Johnna Adams's trilogy, but all her inventive satire is totally caught up in the relentless (and nonsensical) plot. The clever observations--for instance, Sony's Worker Retrieval Program, which copyrights the DNA of productive employees for future use--don't mesh with action sequences in which Holdorf plays at least four different clone versions of herself as they battle one another in a fight sequence that would make Qui Nguyen jealous (though by no means intimidated). This dystopic future is frightening enough without Sem and Zaz harmonizing their ode to Satan, nor is there room for romance. After a while, the self-satire runs on fumes, although August Schulenburg certainly gives it his all as Ezekiel, managing to savor hammy lines like "Evil is a hobby of mine" right up there with Mr. Applegate himself. But to stick with Damn Yankees, for a moment, you gotta have heart, and for all the energetic laughs, this play doesn't have one.
8 Little Antichrists (1hr 30min, 1 intermission)
Wings Theater (154 Christopher Street)
Tickets: $18.00 ($40.00 for all three plays)
Performances (through 11/22): In repertory with Angel Eaters and Rattlers, see website for details
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