Last Saturday I had the rare treat of seeing a staged reading of the 1975 made-for-TV film “Someone I Touched” at the Neo-Futurarium in Andersonville. The original film (I say “original” but I assume it’s never been remade–Jesus why would anyone do that?!) starred Cloris Leachman as a newly pregnant married professional in her late 30s whose husband contracts syphilis from an extramarital affair with a teenager. A retake on this cinematic piece de resistance closed out the Neo-futurist’s 12th annual “It Came from the Neo-Futurarium” festival of staged readings of should’ve-been-forgotten, trash films of yesteryear.
This year’s festival ran on consecutive Saturday nights from June 24 to July 15. In addition to Someone I Touched, Suspira, Caged! and Face/Off were performed to live audiences. While there’s no reason to doubt the superior sense of humor, panache and charm of a Neo-Futurists’ show, I was not entirely sure what to expect. The description seemed so wacky and utterly ridiculous.
Of course my doubt was misplaced. The show was riotously funny, and it had the unique quality wherein the actors and the audience seem in on the same joke, the joke here being the script and plot. Actors Phil Ridarelli and Tina Haglund were my favorites but they had the best characters: Frank Berlin (Ridarelli) a public health inspector, like some kind of private investigator for syphilis, and Dr. Cranbrook (Haglund) an ObGyn, which many of the cast pronounced (Oh-beh-guy-nuh). The cast also featured Corbette Pasko as syphilis itself and the narrator, Mark Chrisler as the infidelitous husband, Dana Cruz as the tramp teen, David Kodeski as the secret syphilis fount, and Noelle Krimm as the Cloris Leachman character. The cast worked really well together and worked through missed lines and audience reactions with ease and humor.
Rachel Claff and Dina Walters are excellent curators, choosing truly terrible and hilarious scripts. I can’t wait to see what they’ll choose for next year, and I already went ahead and liked the Facebook page for It Came from the Neo-Futurarium so I can see their weekly bad movie suggestions. This hits all the right marks for a great Saturday night activity: funny, inexpensive, group friendly and BYOB. I can’t wait for next year!