Superhero Clubhouse’s MERCURY at Flux Factory

Sunday night took us to the Flux Factory in LIC for Superhero Clubhouse‘s production MERCURY.  Flux Factory is an artists’ collective with a raw industrial space that they use for public performances. It is a quick trip on the N/W train to the 39th Ave. stop, and then a few blocks walk from there.

Superhero Clubhouse is a young company helmed by Jeremy Pickard, that bills itself as “a society of theater artists engaged in making original plays and events about the natural world via a green and collaborative process.”  They’re still figuring out exactly what that means, apparently, and it can include any number of things from not using paper programs (the program for the show was projected on the wall and is available here) to using recycled materials where possible to recycling all the beer bottles used for concessions.

MERCURY is the latest in the company’s series of “planet plays” – theatrical explorations of different themes inspired by the planets.  Previous productions have included Uranus (a play about waste), Neptune (a play about water) and Venus (a play about energy). MERCURY is a play about poison. (!!!)

The show opens in 1780 in Danbury, Connecticut, where a young entrepreneur named Zoe Benedict is building hats. Having literally stumbled upon a process by which to make felt, Zoe builds fifteen a day. Unfortunately the process includes using a Mercury-bath solution which slowly drives Zoe mad. As he descends into madness he is visited by an identity-shifting salesman from 1880 Danbury; a suicidal revolutionary Valley Girl from 1980 Danbury; a computer-man from 2080 Danbury; and a strange androgynous figure from 2180. With each visitation the Tea Party gets more frantic and surreal,  the mysterious androgyne from 2180 leads the crew of Hatmakers on a journey to the Hole in the Sky, and gradually everything whirls into chaos and destruction. Loosely inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories, MERCURY is a tale of multiple time-traveling Mad Hatters converging in one place.

MERCURY is tightly choreographed and well-performed, the ensemble is energetic and talented. The production as a whole is enjoyable – the sound design and lighting design are quite good and the performers are engaging.  It is fun to see a young company finding their footing and cultivating their aesthetic.  While they haven’t quite found it yet – the script is not incredibly strong and the show as a whole somehow seemed to lack a real center – they are well on their way. Superhero Clubhouse is one to watch.

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