Our Fair City: A Lighthearted Dystopia

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The   Our Fair City   logoThe   Our Fair City   logo

The Our Fair City logo

This article was written by me for, and originally posted on, Forward Compatible


Outside the walls, things are grim: New England is a frozen wasteland. Things aren’t much better within them, but your chances of survival are better. Slightly. The denizens of HartLife’s community — better known as Policies — live to work. At the very least, they work to live. The corporation keeps its Policies in line through oppressive bureaucracy, brazen propaganda, and a multitude of unnatural threats. Those who do not bend to the will of HartLife often contend with the like of giant ants and carnivorous mold. A strict social order maintains some semblance of order, and HartLife’s Orwellian monitoring systems prevent the order from being questioned.

Our Fair City is a podcast produced here in Chicago. The cast recently performed a live episode for several nights at Chicago’s Fringe Festival. This special event was presented as a live taping of The Archibald Funnypants Variety Hour, a popular radio show designed to entertain HartLife’s Policies while keeping them mollified. The venue wasn’t perfect; the lack of air conditioning made the room muggy and slightly uncomfortable. It was underground theatre in its most raw form, and I do not think it should be used to judge the show. I only mention it because, in a way, it suited the concept of the show. An audience of HartLife Policies would likely view the show in a less-than-comfortable climate.

I gave the show’s web site a quick glance before the performance, but I did not listen to any episodes beforehand. Though a thorough understanding of the show would have likely lead to a deeper connection to Our Fair City’s live production, I am happy it was not necessary.  The story is easy enough to get into, and Archibald Funnypants, portrayed by Mark Soloff, does a fantastic job of acclimating the crowed to their world. The majority of the show was a series of moralistic short stories, skewed to suit the interests of HartLife. As a radio drama, actors stood in front of microphones while performing, and a foley artist created an aural landscape onstage to accompany them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which included parables about the proper place in society for mole-people, the dangers of carnivorous mold outbreaks, and the dire need for Policies to donate their discretionary income back to the company. It piqued my interest in the podcast itself, and I would jump at the chance to see another live performance.

Our Fair City presents the lighter side of corporate-sponsored dystopian misery, and it’s worth checking out.


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