Summer is the time for blockbuster action flicks. This is it! HAYMAKER is a play about a movie written by a 13 year old who is now 27. Creator Trevor Dawkins attempts to stage his “Tears of Shanghai,” a hero-driven-Nazi-ass-kicking movie. Dawkins wants to play rogue protagonist Russell Dakota. The ensemble, Indra Andreshak, Brenda Arellano, Daiva Bhandari, Kevin Duvall, Sarah Fornace, Mike Hamilton, Andrew Tham, and Dallas Tolentino, foil his grandiose plan. They question both the imagination of Dawkins younger self and the intentions of Dawkins current self.
The premise is clever. Dawkins the younger based his movie on his favorite plot points from martial arts, samurai, and gangster movies. The sublime ensemble, credited also with devising, writing and choreographing, let Dawkins direct them in his adolescent born fantasy… to a point. In one exchange, they start to pummel Dawkins as his script indicates. He quickly interjects a script change; Russell Dakota is now encased within a force field. It’s exactly like a thirteen year old leading his friends in a game that he is making up on the fly.
The chemistry between Dawkins and his back-talking cast is both playful and serious. Tolentino, in particular, butts heads over Dawkins’ character development. Tolentino is to play a non-speaking, Ninja-like villain. Tolentino hilariously resists. The underlying onstage and pretend offstage relationship between Dawkins and Arellano ripples throughout the show. Dawkins continues to try to box the spirited Arellano into a specific role. Her opposition leads to heart-felt reveals from Dawkins. These glimpses of genuine adolescent angst bring a sobriety to the high energy buffoonery.
Still, what makes HAYMAKER spectacular is the non-stop action. The stunts, led by head fight director Fornace, are amazing. The camera shot of a car flipping over and the bad guy in the car coming face to face with the good guy outside the car is illustrated by Duvall doing a handstand on blocks while Dawkins slithers underneath him. It’s hysterical and marveling. When the script calls for the Nazis super monster played by the petite Fornace to lift Dawkins over her head, they reverse roles. Fornace becomes the hero that is flipped, dropped, hurled all over the stage and through the window. The feats are timed to perfection.
Under the masterful direction of Kurt Chiang, this ensemble kicks ass. The play is better than a movie. There is no stunt double or multiple takes to get it right. The action is jaw-dropping because it’s live. HAYMAKER is the summer flick to see.
Running Time: One hundred minutes with no intermission
At The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland
Created by Trevor Dawkins
Directed by Kurt Chiang
Devised, written, choreographed and performed by Indra Andreshak, Brenda Arellano, Daiva Bhandari, Trevor Dawkins, Kevin Duvall, Sarah Fornace, Mike Hamilton, Andrew Tham, and Dallas Tolentino
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Thru June 28th
Buy Tickets at www.neofuturists.org
Photo by Taylor Bailey