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Freedom of leech: Musical parasite play spreads through Brooklyn - Brooklyn Paper

Freedom of leech: Musical parasite play spreads through Brooklyn

Political theater: In the new musical, “No Brainer, or the Solution to Parasites,” a social worker faces off against a Trumpian villain who tells people of color to “go back where they came from!”
Jonathan Slaff

This show is gonna be huge!

An extravagant musical theater piece starring a city worker facing off against a deranged, Trump-like villain will take over Brooklyn’s streets this summer, providing the public with family-friendly — albeit dark — songs and comedy. “No Brainer, or the Solution to Parasites,” which will parade through Coney Island, Sunset Park, and Bushwick this month, features a blond businessman who sips a stew made from the world’s maladies in his quest for world domination. After the crazed villain becomes king, a New York City social worker must defeat him to restore goodness to the world.

The musical mixes dark themes with fun, juvenile asides, said its creator.

“This year’s [production] is a combination of Disney and a horror movie,” said Crystal Field, who wrote the 75-minute musical and co-founded Theater for the New City, the Manhattan theater company behind the production.

“No Brainer” marks the company’s 43rd annual traveling production. Every summer, the troupe sends its transportable stage to more than a dozen of the city’s parks and roads, complete with dazzling sets, a crew of up to 50 people, and life-sized puppets — along with some not-so-subtle political themes designed to empower viewers, according to Field.

“We tell them they’re not alone,” she said. “You have civic power, and you have the power to organize.”

The troupe’s productions often star middle-class city workers who defeat capitalist supervillains. Many shows have a clear message: instructing viewers to vote, or telling undocumented audience members what to do if ICE agents knock on their door, Field said, and they have happy endings.

“The neighborhood always wins,” said Field.

However, “No Brainer” takes a darker turn than most of the troupe’s other productions. Rather than ending with a triumphant hero and a happy song, it closes just as the good guys prepare to protest the fascist villain. According to Field, the show’s more somber, uncertain finale reflects the country’s tumultuous political climate.

“We are living in a terrible, terrible time,” she said. “People feel powerless.”

Nevertheless, the play tries to keep things light and jovial with a range of fun Bossa Nova, hip-hop, and classical choir music performed by five live musicians — and audiences have responded positively. During its first performance in the Bronx, more than 100 spectators met the show with a hearty round of applause, Field said.

“They blew us kisses,” she said.

“No Brainer, or the Solution to Parasites” at the Coney Island Boardwalk (at the Boardwalk and W. 10th Street in Coney Island, theaterforthenewcity). Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Free.

At Maria Hernandez Park (t Knickerbocker Avenue and Starr Street in Bushwick). Aug. 17 at 2 p.m.

At Sunset Park (at Sixth Avenue and 44th Street in Sunset Park). Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. Free.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.

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