Despite its name, The Antelope Party is not about a group of happy herbivores frolicking in the sun. The play is happy and light, until it takes an unexpected turn. The Antelope Party was written in 2018 and postponed by the pandemic in 2020. It finally comes to the stage in New York with power and prescience far beyond what was implied in 2018 or 2020.
The Antelope Party opens on a group of people at a completely different type of party. Five friends share a common interest in My Little Pony role playing and meet up once a week. They all take the parts of the various characters from the TV show. The group is made up of 3 bronies (male cosplayers) and 2 Pegasisters (female cosplayers). Each of the weekly meetings starts with a sharing session, which is cleverly laid out to the audience with a combination of love and disbelief.
|Ben Mawere, Caitlin Morris and Will Dagger|
With two players missing and one new member, the story opens with this sharing session. Shawn (an amazing Will Dagger) starts by explaining how his life was saved by the group and how much he loves it. Ben (wonderful Edward Mawere) is the founder of the leaderless group. Ben and Rachel (Caitlen Morris) worry about Maggie (Lindsley Howard) and Doug (Quinn Franzen), late to show up without a word. Newcomer Jean (Anna Ishida) realizes quickly that this isn’t the group she signed up for, and leaves.
Doug into the room, and tells the story that Maggie was grabbed on the street by a vigilante gang. From his discussion we find it isn’t safe to wear their pony outfits on the street as the vigilantes tend to look at any others as outsiders. There is a generalized feeling of unease in their appearance in the city.
When Maggie does shows up the next week, she explains she was not kidnapped. She recognized her cousin and went in the car voluntarily. But she shuts down all questions about the evening and her cousin. Later we find her father is one of the heads of the vigilante group, The Antelope Party. The party is a slightly fascist group intent on confronting those that don’t follow their ideas about true Americans.
|Caitlin Morris, Quinn Franzen|
Maggie and Shawn, who is enamored with her, join The Antelope Party. In a short amount of time, they both pressure everyone to sign a pledge approving of the party. It is interesting because Maggie is a woman of color and therefore close to being an outsider in the Antelope’s view. Doug sings on quickly, but Ben, a Black man, and Rachel, a bisexual woman, have serious doubts about the group.
The Antelope Party slowly morphs from a local organization to a powerful group dedicated to harassing people out of power. Here, The Antelope Party becomes a grim prophecy on what has come to pass in reality. The machinations of the Bronies as they navigate this new environment are both familiar and foreboding.
The Antelope Party is well paced and directed by professional Jess Chayes. The playwright, Eric John Meyer brings the action from farcical to deadly serious in a manner that is internally consistent, and externally frightening. It is another great production by the Dutch Kills Theater Company. The stage of the Wild Project is small, but the intimacy works perfectly in the venue.