Review: FRIGID NY Festival 2022: "Are You Lovin' It?" (The Answer Is Yes)

Are You Lovin' It?

Written by Theatre Group GUMBO

Directed by Kayo Tamura

Presented at The Kraine Theater

85 E 4th St., Manhattan, NYC

February 16-March 6, 2022

Kayo Tamura and Ryo Nishihara. Photo by Sue Brenner
Are You Lovin' It? coats the dystopia of corporate globalization in brightly colored fun, a coincidence of method and message in a show that delivers absurdism and satire with anarchic energy. From award-winning Osaka-based Theatre Group GUMBO, which was established by director Kayo Tamura in 1994 and began touring internationally in 1997, Are You Lovin' It? serves up a vision of fast-food imperialism in which Happy Meal toys are distributed based on the essence of one's being and you really don't want to know what's in that burger patty–and makes it hilarious. Are You Lovin' It? is currently playing as part of FRIGID New York's 16th annual festival, in which one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the artists. For a full schedule of shows, all of which can be experienced in person or via livestream, visit FRIGID New York's website.

The show begins with a pair of figures (Nono Miyasaka and Ayataro Motomura) who resemble a certain fast-food clown mascot dancing and flipping to a song in praise of a WacDonalds, a company that resembles in its products and red and yellow branding a certain U.S.-based international fast-food corporation. We then meet a businessman (Ryo Nishihara, who also plays Jesus–don't ask; just see it for yourself) who is going to spend his very first time off from work ever, including through stretches of serious illness and the loss of his family, at WacDonaldland. This character also allows GUMBO to poke fun at American stereotypes of Japan, an approach used elsewhere in the show as it also invokes global stereotypes of Americans in its satire. Nishihara's holding an entire conversation solely in variations of the phrase "Yes, boss" is only one of the comedic highlights of this segment. Kayo Tamura, as a mother who encounters the businessman with her baby in tow, more than keeps the comic momentum going, and from there things only get more delightfully surreal, culminating in an ending that cleverly reframes the last stretches as themselves a critique of corporate feel-good woke-washing.
Nono Miyasaka and Ryo Nishihara. Photo by Sue Brenner
Are You Lovin' It? includes song, dance, physical comedy, and audience participation in its special recipe. If you've ever dreamed of seeing a man with a katana face off against a woman with a bo staff made from oversized french fries and a chicken nugget (and who among us hasn't), then this production is your dream come true. A more joyful indictment of global capitalism than the fearlessly madcap Are You Lovin' It? you're unlikely to find.  

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

More FRIGID 2022 Reviews:
And Toto Too

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