Review: "Fast Forward" by About Face Youth Theatre

By Venus Zarris

About Face Youth Theatre presents a delightful and imperative world premiere with Fast Forward. This oral history based production was two years in the making, incorporating several interviews with students, teachers and people inside and outside of the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & Questioning) community. What you see creatively acted out on stage are true stories. The priorities of these stories serve to show the truth about young people’s lives, admonish the life threatening lack of sex education in the schools and combat the conditions that threaten LGBTQ youth.

About Face Youth Theatre presents their newest play, "Fast Forward"

To say that being openly gay in high school when I was a kid was unsafe would be like saying that playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun is slightly dangerous. To say that gay visibility was nonexistent would be like saying that signs of compassion in the current presidential administration are hard to come by. That is to say, these declarations are profound understatements. When I was in high school there was nothing gay in the vocabulary or on the radar. We queer kids were flying solo. And although in some places things may have improved dramatically, depending on location, time seems to be at a stand still.

Multiply the difficulties of being safely and happily ‘out’ as an adult by about 10,000 and you have the general climate that still exists for most LGBTQ kids in America. There are so many aspects of queer life that still have a long way to go before we are fully franchised but perhaps the most profound area of importance is queer youth. Contemplate the dramatic strides that the community has made in the past few decades without the aid of safe and nurturing adolescent experiences. Now try to imagine the incredible social and political growth spurt that could result from a generation of kids that wouldn’t have to live in agonizing fear.

Grant it, from that adversity has come a great deal of fortitude. But imagine what could be accomplished if the formative years of these kid’s lives were not spent surviving the intolerance. Fast Forward to what could be accomplished if the energy and personal resources spent trying to justify one’s existence as a teen could be redirected to less primal necessities. What might queer people’s lives look like now if we could have been ourselves in high school as easily and with as much social support as the straight kids?

By illustrating the struggles that still exist for LGBTQ kids today, Fast Forward presents the situation as it stands and then dares to fantasize about a future classroom where kids are safe to be who they are and where education is responsible enough to give them the critical information they need avoid the very real dangers of sexual ignorance.

*55 youth are infected with HIV everyday in the United States

*In the U.S., half of all new HIV infections are among people 25 and younger

*$1 billion was spent on Abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum

*No federal funding exists for comprehensive sex education

*Currently, no LGBTQ youth-focused sex education exists in the United States

FAR FROM ACADEMIC, dry, or sermonizing, Fast Forward showcases the talent and enthusiasm of a dynamic young ensemble. They are fearless and dedicated storytellers who infuse the exuberance of youth into their work while taking us on several personal, poignant and playful journeys. The occasional melodrama is easily eclipsed by the humor and passion of the lovable cast. Director Paula Gilovich squeezes every drop of skill and determination out of the exceptional ensemble and supports their efforts with a first rate design team to create a show that is as entertaining as it is provocative and vital.

In a scene depicting a high school sex education class a teacher diagrams a fetus but gives no information of how the baby was conceived. Her dull delivery, coupled with the lack of relevant information, falls on deaf ears as the students zone out.

“Don’t you think that’s a little odd? That SEX education would be boring to TEENAGERS?’ Asks one intuitive youth.

The topics covered are approached from several angles, displaying a well-rounded collection of perspectives. The stories range from funny to compelling to sad to redeeming and the delivery is very impressive, especially coming from such a young cast. Their devotion to story telling, as well as the critical messages conveyed, shines through and their exhilaration is contagious. The summation Rap delivered by Pookie L. towards the end of the show is alone worth the price of admission!

Fast Forward closes by asking, “What if we were the generation to stop this?” (referring to the bigotry and ignorance that LGBTQ youth must endure) And based on the intelligence, excitement and commitment of these kids, you believe they just might succeed!

About Face Youth Theatre does the community at large a great service and creates a playfully profound and fabulously entertaining accomplishment. Fast Forward is a good time that should not be missed!

Rating:  «««½


(“Fast Forward” runs through August 2 at Center on Halsted, 3656 North Halsted Street. 866-811-4111)

3 Responses

  1. Pq1d2E doors1.txt;25;55

  2. […] that spans continents.  This season in Chicago, in addition to being an Artistic Associate at About Face Theatre  Company, she was the dramaturg on 500 Clown and the Elephant Deal with the 500 Clown […]

  3. […] Theatre, she contributed to the writing of The Home Project and she wrote/directed, Fast Forward (our review – ★★★½). She also co-created and co-curated, The Homo Show. For the educational touring […]

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