MILLENNIA (Brad Ogden): 2016 Fringe review 63

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Brad Ogden’s MILLENNIA moves in fits and starts, trying to wrap its arms fully around the concept of what it means to be a millennial by mocking the generation’s worst traits while searching for meaning in the mess. It’s ambitious trying to pinpoint what defines the generation that is either maligned as narcissistic, entitled idlers or “the next great generation” struggling to assert itself amidst a wrecked economy it didn’t choose. The play—written and performed by millennials—seems to hew to both sides, sometimes reading like an internalized diatribe against “kids these days” while explicitly rebelling against the same notions before sort of arriving at a point, maybe.

MILLENNIA is entertaining, if messy, with an ensemble cast that brings a lot of energy and humor to their performances. Tired jokes about brunch, hashtags, and participation trophies take on a slightly new cast when framed as millennial self-criticism, accepting our faults in an attempt to understand how we came to be this way. Touching and all-too-real monologues from characters about having a baby that would grow to be college-aged before her college debts were paid (Dana Weddell) and a character who “redefined busting [his] ass” in college only to find no available jobs (Aaron Bell) compete with awkwardly placed stand-up comedy (Lou Misiano) and overly long dance breaks. Most interesting are the scenes in which the Millennials get lost in breathless conversations about creating their own destiny before being brought back down to their current reality by the voice of mom coming from upstairs. In the end, MILLENNIA’s solution to the millennial predicament seems to be “do what makes you happy” or we’ll be no better than the generation before, but it comes too unexpectedly to feel sincere. Still, MILLENNIA has plenty for fellow 90’s babies to chew on.

[Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine Street] September 9-18, 2016; fringearts.com/millennia.

 

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About the author

Tyler Horst

Tyler Horst is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer based in Philadelphia. He is a regular contributor for JUMP, SPOKE, and Hidden City Philadelphia. His writing has also appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News and the mobile gaming site Hardcore Droid. In 2015, he won an Emmy for his short documentary "Born-Frees in Hip Hop," shot in South Africa. His first movie was a Star Wars fan film he shot on a camcorder at the age of 8, but his cousin tragically taped over it with an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!. He still hasn't forgiven his cousin for this.