Here's an interesting fact. When you started reading this review, you were in the past. The sentence you're reading now takes place in the present, but before you finish it, it will have been in the future. This is the sort of logic gaming that playwrights Joey Rizzolo and Christopher Loar enjoy humorously tripping through, but the presentation between their two plays is miles apart and serves as a perfect example of the variety one finds in any given night with the New York Neo-Futurists. Rizzolo's "Tempus Umbra" uses a shadow-play format and a snappy, pattering dialogue to discuss existence and time-travel; Loar's "The Theoretical Physics of Procrastination," features three deadpan and dour (though there is a dance break) versions of Loar (two pre-recorded on the televisions rubbling the stage, all dubbed with a Robotic Hawking voice) discussing the "undeniable reality that this play has indeed already been written."
Of course, not everything always hits home. Adam Smith's "Box" gets points for establishing a creepy, crank-flashlight-powered atmosphere as he detoxes from his digital dependence in an electric-less future, but his conclusion about what really matters is perhaps a little too cute or twee -- a consequence, perhaps, of trying to distill deep thoughts into a fifteen-minute short. Likewise, there are some good jokes (and unbridled performances from the playwrights) in Daniel McCoy and Ricardo Gamboa's self-explanatorily titled "An Introduction to the Future of an Expanding Universe as Applicable to Queer Culture, Pop Culture, and Culture Club," but here's a campy theme that perhaps runs on a little too long.
Timing issues aside, On the Future still serves as an excellent showcase of the Neo-Futurist aesthetic, and proves that while it's possible they may someday run out of ideas -- in the future, anything is possible -- they're still scratching the aesthetic surface in the present. Even a piece like Eevin Hartsough's informative "(Y)Our IMMEDIATE Survival Strategy," which has shades of a bit from a previous show of theirs -- (un)afraid -- has an entirely original (and clever) presentation, in the way it incorporates bits of fear-mongering TV clips from the past to warn us about the future. If you take Hartsough's word (and mine) for it, there are two things that are guaranteed about that future: In the future, something will happen. And if that something is you spending eighty minutes at On the Future, that'll be a good something.