With a title like Flying Snakes in 3D!! (part of this year’s Ice Factory Festival at the New Ohio Theatre), a patron should be expecting some motherf—in’ snakes on a mother—in’ stage. And the first glance at your seat is promising: a pair of rubber snakes that you’re assured you’ll get to throw at some point. A goofy sci-fi riff is always tough to pull off in the theater, and like the movies that inspire them, they often lose their luster about halfway through. Instead of playful B-movie-inspired froth, though, here you get—rather bizarrely and for too much of its 60-minute running time—a navel-gazing tract that ends up as limp as the rubber snakes you almost just sat on.
Conceived as a knowing vanity project of sorts, its creators (Leah Nanako Winkler and Teddy Nicholas, who also directed) open the show by standing at the footlights explaining the mission statement of Everywhere Theatre Group in wink-wink fashion: They choose actors to play themselves, talk of influences, crack some jokes. Then, seemingly absent of aforementioned winks, they discuss their histories of poverty and abusive parents, and delight in railing against the theater elite, to them, rich whites and trust-fund kids who have made it impossible for the pair to create as well as work $400-a-week jobs. Oh, and when the protracted whining stops, you get a half-baked piece about mutated flying snakes created by the CIA, scientists (“power-hungry British liars” as the play calls them) caught in the frenzy, and poor attempts at Qui Nguyen–style videography and self-reference. However, Nguyen’s shows are often heartfelt and fun, and don’t spend an outrageous amount of time sticking a hot poker in the ass of the one-percent. Whatever side you may Occupy, you’ll have to concur that these Snakes have no real bite.