- Last Updated: 11:41 AM, June 26, 2012
- Posted: 10:42 PM, June 25, 2012
The Ice Factory Festival always seemed misnamed, because as cutting-edge and cool as its programming tends to be, its SoHo home was notorious for its lack of air-conditioning.
The steamiest thing about it this year is the lineup, with shows like “Miss Lilly Gets Boned,” part of the fest’s 19th season, kicking off tomorrow in a new space — the New Ohio Theatre in the West Village’s landmark Archive Building.
“I love this neighborhood,” says the fest’s artistic director, Robert Lyons. “It’s a much friendlier vibe.”
The Ice Factory Festival used to have the summer all to itself, but no longer. Now it’s up against the Lincoln Center Festival, the International Fringe Festival and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Luckily, its reputation precedes it. Critics have long praised the festival’s “intellectual” fare, but Lyons, 52, insists that’s not what he’s after. “I do like smart work,” he says. “But I also like work that’s highly theatrical and entertaining.”
As it happens, this year’s six shows promise both, with some apocalyptic foreshadowing. Exhibit A: “The Apocalyptic Road Show With Your Hosts Gdjet and Lulu” (July 25 to 28), a profane evening of cabaret that bids farewell to the human race, written by Obie winner John Clancy, whose “hosts” might well rival Kiki and Herb.
And then there’s “Flying Snakes in 3D” (July 4 to 7), about mutant killer snakes accidentally released by the CIA. “That one is our weekend blockbuster, or mock blockbuster,” Lyons says, laughing.
Leah Nanako Winkler, its co-writer and director, happily agrees, though she says the show is really about a scrappy young theater company trying to create an elaborate sci-fi stage production on a shoestring. “We wanted to examine what happens when theater tries to badly mimic film, because that’s happening a lot on Broadway these days,” she says.
The show boasts “cheap special effects” and “stunning video design.” Turns out that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. “These days, it doesn’t cost anything to create a stunning video design,” Winkler says. “We’re all pretty resourceful, and all you really need is a computer.”
“The video isn’t in 3-D, but the actors are,” she continues. “And the audience gets to throw snakes at the performers.”
This year’s festival also features a combination of companies that Lyons has tracked for years, including the Godlight Theatre Company, which adapts difficult literary works such as “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “1984.”
Its festival offering is “The Pilo Family Circus” (July 11 to 14), based on Australian author Will Elliott’s novel about a young man who turns into a demented clown.
“I told them I loved the script, but how in the world are you going to stage it?” Lyons says. “And they said, ‘That’s what we do.’ ”
There’s romance, too, in the festival’s opening production, “Good Year for Hunters” (tomorrow through Saturday), a darkly comic love story inspired by Tori Amos’ classic album “Little Earthquakes,” and “The Girl of the Golden West” (Aug. 1 to 4), based on David Belasco’s 1905 play-turned-novel, which Puccini turned into an opera.
In “Miss Lilly Gets Boned” (July 18 to 21), a Sunday-school teacher gets involved with a student’s dad. It’s presented by Studio 42, which prides itself on producing “unproduceable” plays.
What makes this one so hard to produce?
“Well,” Lyons says, “it’s got an elephant in it.”
Should be interesting.
The Ice Factory Festival runs through Aug. 4 at the New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher St. For tickets ($18 for adults, $12 for students/seniors), call 212-868-4444 or visit newohiotheatre.org.