In Apocalypse Picnic, meteors have struck Earth and rendered obsolete the nagging questions of the past. Is America in decline? Can the Israelis and Palestinians get along? Puh-lease – Western Civ’s gone down the tubes and practical, everyday concerns now dominate the collective consciousness. Well, for the most part. Some folks, you see, just can’t let go of the comforts and pastimes that once defined their lives. And rather than dealing sensibly with the privations facing them, they indulge instead in the distractions and touchstones of yesteryear.
Theirs is a society in denial, which… actually kind of sounds like our society. “People just don’t seem to get what’s really important,” said a person close to the production, who asked for anonymity so she could speak freely. “We wondered if things would be any different if all of this – like, pedicures – just went away.”
In Picnic, the world’s intoxicated by the fumes of pop-culture lost. Weighty questions, involving matters of food, shelter, and government go unanswered as the hoi polloi content themselves with mindless ego-centrism and the easy comfort of instant gratification. For them, life’s been reduced to the husky anthems of ’80s radio.
“If I knew the world was ending, I’d be having as much sex as possible,” said the show’s Assistant to the Stage Manager, Wallace Montgomery. “You know, for the fun of it.” And if he survived? “Well, I guess repopulating the earth would be a nice ‘side’ benefit.” Then he ripped into an off-key rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” This is the spirit that guides the production’s sprawling cast of characters, who seek status with a loopy, masochistic glee. But what they can’t grasp – or won’t – is that their civilization has been turned upside down. In the post-apocalypse, the symbols of the previous era are worthless and the 99% are firmly in charge.
What’s left is a delusion so extreme that no one – no superhero, not even the Lord Himself – can escape it. And so, by the end of this hilarious hour, the fall of man is complete. But does that mean his reign as the Earth’s supreme being has come to an end? Lesser creatures the world over await the answer… In the interim, only two things can sustain this bunch of would-be depressives: bathtub gin and the type of absurdist humor that propels Orbit Chef’s Apocalypse Picnic. Let’s give thanks that the world hasn’t ended – yet.
Venue: Goethe Institut – Gallery – 812 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC.
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About Orbit Chef
Orbit Chef is a DC-based sketch-comedy troupe founded in 2011. ‘Apocalypse Picnic,’ directed Stephanie Svec and stage managed by Solomon HaileSelasse, is the follow-up to their successful December production, ‘Holiday Buffet.’ The ensemble includes Matt Fogarty, Derek Hills, Stephanie Svec, and Amelia Vogel, all graduates of the Washington Improv Theater’s (WIT) improv training and sketch-writing curricula, and Jason Pittman, stand-up comic and all-around swell guy. Each is a veteran member of DC’s theater, storytelling, and comedy communities.