Mike Pence Sex Dream by Dan Giles at First Floor Theatre, directed by Hutch Pimentel, is a sometimes ruckus sometimes sobering depiction of the weight of capitalism and cancel culture in the face of animal cruelty and neoliberalism. A mouthful right? And yet, it’s shaping up to be one of the hottest, realest show of the season.
Giles’ world premiere finds a solid home at The Den, where the audience is up close and personal during moments of dream fugues and marital uncertainty. We meet Gary (Scott Shimizu) and Ben (Colin Quinn Rice), a recently married couple going through changes. Gary’s new corporate job at a marketing agency threatens their liberal moral compasses, and Ben takes it particularly hard as a non-binary middle school teacher turned activist/organizer. With Gary’s new client, a bacon manufacturer hoping for a comeback, we meet a real pig a man Tom (Gage Wallace), an executive offering more than financial security.
For the audience, many elements offer an escape from the messiness and horror of our current Trumpian era. Throughout this ninety-minute production, foggy sex dreams and killer choreography (Breon Arzell) are only amplified by a muddled, mirror-paneled set with its own secrets. William Boles scenic design aptly reflects what it real and what is up for questioning. When paired with intuitive yet bold lighting by Claire Chrzan, we are transported between the worlds of burlesque, dysphoria, and stark daily living.
The dialogue is quick and witty, making it a play flush with one-liners you’d actually want to use. But what I wanted more on the newlyweds as individuals and how they chose each other to brave this new world. There are many digs at the plight of the artist/writer. Gary lived that coffee-slinging life while working on fiction. Going corporate provided stability but also a different type of exhaustion. We see snippets of people, either baring their whole selves or in moments of rebellion. Or maybe we no longer live in a world with an inbetween.
First Floor Theater knows what they’re doing for this gutsy world premiere. Hutch Pimentel directs with a precision that can only be achieved by a team operating with total trust and open minds.
Mike Pence Sex Dream runs at First Floor Theater through March 16th.
Scott Shimizu — Gary
Collin Quinn Rice — Ben
Gage Wallace — Tom
William Boles — Scenic Design
Claire Chrzan* — Lighting Design
Uriel Gomez — Costume Design
Erin Nicole Gautille — Properties Design
Eric Backus — Sound Design
Claire Stone* — Special Effects Assistant
Kayla Menz — Stage Management
Micah Figueroa — Violence and Intimacy Design
Breon Arzell — Choreography
Carol Ann Tan — Dramaturg
Caitlin McCarthy — Production Management
Jacob Mulcahy — Technical Direction
Catherine Miller* — Casting Direction
Kendall Reasons — Assistant Stage Management
WHO IS SHE – Photographer