The Sky Is Exploding, directed by Matt Enos, and written and performed by Montreal comic and entertainer Rena Hundert, with a lot of help from stage manager Greg Hamilton, is a twisted, modern day take on the story of Chicken Little. Rena plays a number of characters, all by herself, with different voices, and a tremendous amount of energy. Though the show runs only about a half hour, it’s jam packed with action.
The story takes place in the dream of a woman as she recalls this dream to her therapist. She tells of a dream she has of a kids show hosted by Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath, clearly uninterested in coddling the children, tells them the story of “Chicken Little” as it would be if it was a representation our current society. Chicken Little represents the masses, Ducky Lucky represents Obama, and so on. It’s a story about how innocent people can be easily influenced by those who seek to benefit from misleading us. Our determination to avoid taking on responsibility for our own actions, expressed when we are quick to blame others and even chose a pariah to hang, is probably the biggest factor that leaves us most vulnerable to being manipulated. Our desperate need for certainty gives power to those who seek to control us by simply providing the illusion of unquestionable certainty, such as through religion.
Foxy Woxy, who represents those who own the media and benefit from biasing the message, tries to convince the animals of their impending doom in order to get them to leave the farm. As Foxy Woxy gave a little broadcast about the sky exploding, all I heard in my head was, “Terrorism, Terrorism, terrorism… give us your guns… more anal cavity searches!” Chicken Little, with the best of intentions, starts spreading panic in an attempt to save people from the terror.
He meets an activist named Bill who, very clearly and articulately, explains the conspiracy. It all makes sense. Rena expresses that in our “real-life” society, using protests such as the G20 a an example, we are developing a thought police problem. People are arrested, in Canada, and held for extensive amounts of time, before even committing a crime. The unspoken truth is that resisting authority is the crime. Dealing with the truth is overwhelming and stigmatized so badly that it’s easier to stay in the daydreamy haze of idiotic tweets, pointless status updates, violent video games, and duck face profile pics. We focus on things we want to buy and impressing other people just for the temporary ego boost, while the world is crumbling around us in the most violent and poisonous ways.
At one point in the dream we are witness to a historian from the future narrating a tour of our generation. She makes the ignorance expressed in our daily lives blatantly obvious, simply by trying to explain why we use technology that is unsustainable and extremely detrimental to the environment, and by reading pop music lyrics. “My Humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps” makes our generation sound a lot closer in intellectual depth to cavemen than we would like to see ourselves. Unfortunately, in real life, if things continue as they are, there may not be a future for our species.
Rena created a character called “The Motherboard”, finally introduced at the end, who is told to have all the answers to everything. The animals finally discover the truth, that things are not as they seem. A very innocent event was taken out of context and way out of proportion leading to an outbreak of hysteria that could have been easily avoided if they would have just stayed calm for long enough to find the truth. The motherboard is asked the follow-up question “why” to every answer it gives, until the final answer “because that’s just the way it is” is revealed. I found it very interesting that Rena decided to point out that in real life there is not always a reason. Sometimes “that’s just the way it is.”
The Motherboard warns Chicken Little that not everyone is good. Some people, who become addicted to love, adoration, power, and more may become “narcissistic assholes”. We’ve learnt that some people may go to far lengths to get what they want. They may lie, terrify, and otherwise manipulate in order to get the results that they so desperately want.
En bref: Loved it!
Check out The cast and crew!