The Terminator is back and this time you can play, too. Terminator Too, Judgment Play is so much more than a just a performance. It is one that is as innovative and clever as it is interactive. Very interactive. So much so that the main character (I’m talking about Arnold of course) is played by an audience member. The winner of the lead cyborg role is chosen by the crowd after a series of Arnold-related tests. Once chosen, the lucky volunteer is led around for the remainder of the show by the crew who tell the makeshift cyborg what to do via cue cards. The cue card holder, an attractive young woman in a maid outfit, Yesenia Ayalaa, said that “every show is very different because we have a different person who is the lead guy. So we feed off their energy and we feed off the audience’s energy.” Throw some toy guns, sticky substances, and bizarre videos into the mix and hilarity ensues!
Playgoers are instructed not to wear expensive clothing to the event and are persuaded to buy ponchos—for good reason. Fake blood and glow in the dark goodness WILL splatter you. Hey, you may even get a free shot of tequila. I sure did. “I didn’t get a tequila shot,” said playgoer Missy Wiggins, “But I DID get shot with blood!!” The whole room was used as an arena for the actors, allowing audience members to interact with the comical performers.
That’s what made the show creative and fresh. The production was not just an updated and made-for-stage rendition of James Cameron’s 1991 smash film, but an explosively successful attempt at improv. Perhaps we can credit the director, Thomas Blake, who is responsible for the long running hit Point Break Live! To add to the fun, Terminator Too borrowed classic one-liners from other Schwarzenegger movies, such as Kindergarten Cop. “Who is your daddy and what does he do?” “I didn’t stop laughing from beginning to end,” exclaimed audience member Heather Usle. Energetic acting and archaic props, which included leaf blowers and Fisher Price bikes and cars, only heightened the laughter. Yes, the props used are not to be missed!
The play used Facebook and King Zuckerburg to replace Skynet, the fictional, self-aware artificial intelligence system of the 1991 film. “I mean come on… we are all secretly aware that the endless hours of checking statuses will ultimately be the demise of the human race,” added Heather. That just may be! And while waiting for the apocalypse to happen, why twiddle your thumbs when you can check out a play with humor that is bitingly sharp. Perhaps having Jim Cunningham, formerly of South Park, on the staff helps a bit!
I spoke to the chosen one of the evening, Tim the Terminator, himself backstage. The tall lanky aspiring actor nailed the Arnold bit to a T. He told me, “I had a whole lot of fun with it. It was all unexpected and there was so much going on, but everybody was super helpful and super talented.” I also spoke with Joya Mila Italiano who played John Connor. I could barely recognize the pretty actress after the performance without her “Public Enemy” shirt and wig on. She would not be mistaken for Edward Furlong, that’s for sure. “They gave me this Justin Bieber wig and I just crushed it so that its 90s emo instead of Justin Bieber hair.” And, Christi Waldon made for a spectacular stone-cold Sarah Connor and deserved an award for keeping a straight face through the comedic madness. “I’m the only one in the show that is dead serious! It was definitely channelling and also beautifully rewarding to take this journey.”
Photos by Thomas Blake:
1. George Spielvogel, Christi Waldon, Petra Sanader, Joya Mia Italiano
and Conor Tansey
2. Joya Mia Italiano & Petra Sanader
3. Conor Tansey, Christi Waldon, George Spielvogel, Joya Mia Italiano
and Petra Sanader
4. Conor Tansey and Christi Waldon
5. Christi Waldon and Joya Mia Italiano
Terminator Too, Judgment Play
Saturdays at 8 p.m. Through August 11, 2012
Santos Party House
96 Lafayette Street — two blocks south of Canal between Walker and White Streets