theater review: Felix for President!
...Felutopia... is Food for Thought, Brings Farming to the People
By Robert Morrison
The Coalition Against Racist Propaganda and Other Crimes Perpetrated by the White Man
April 27-29, 2006
Kresge Rehearsal Room A
For an intimate, simple production, Felutopia was elegant and thought provoking. Four actors set up an open farm-based community, which, in order to deal with population pressures and the difficulty of running a government, promotes a simple farmer, Felix, to president. He runs things as best he can, while maintaining an uncorrupted farmer’s heart, but gets trapped by the presidency more and more, until he is finally set up as a scapegoat by those around him.
As a production, it is beautifully crafted. Susan B. Wilson ’08 stage manages, house manages, and runs the lights and sound. Adam A. Miller ’06, the director, gives the audience plenty of food for thought, basing the action and mood on universal concepts without referring to specific historical events. For example, the characters have town meetings to decide things, and vote left or right (rather than yea or nay).
Daniel B. Chonde ’07 costumes the opening farmers in colorful Hawaiian prints that complement their accepting, cheerful outlook on life. Then, as the characters change their station and role in society, their costumes change to match. The set is just a few chairs, with the actors miming simple actions and performing motions choreographed to represent more complex actions.
The cast is tight, and works well together to bring across abstract concepts. Chonde’s Felix is spontaneous and original, still loving the simple farming life even in a position of authority. Adam C. Love ’07 plays Don, a charming advisor to Felix, even as the advice he gives becomes more and more motivated by selfishness. Diane, played by Helen F. McCreery ’06, feels the inequality of the new society most keenly, and responds almost vindictively. Adam Miller’s Dave is the newcomer to this society; he is warmly accepted initially, but then abandoned as the only farmer left from the original enclave.
Felutopia will be performed again over Graduation Weekend, then it will be taken on tour to the United Kingdom. This show should travel well with its spare set and minimal but effective use of props, and costumes. Because its strong concept base can incorporate new interpretations as it is performed for different audiences, Felutopia should continue to evolve and be just as thought-provoking and enjoyable in England as it was here.