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‘Given the Present, the Future Does Not Depend on the Past’ Perplexes Audiences on the Hudson River

Female MimeOf all the things to write a musical about, search engine optimization is a highly unlikely candidate.

Then again, when you’re performing on a near-deserted stretch of the Hudson River near West 24th Street on a brisk Saturday evening, anything goes.

The musical play, “Given the Present, the Future Does Not Depend on the Past,” was just one of many productions put together by En Garde Arts, for Big Outdoor Site-Specific Stuff (BOSSS), an organization founded in the 80s that is dedicated to re-approaching the spacial aspect of theater. Between the 1980s and 1990s, En Garde produced a number of productions at out-of-the-box locations, including an abandoned hospital and the streets of the meatpacking district. Last weekend’s performance was also an attempt for BOSSS to foray back into the world of environmental theater experimentation.

With all three pieces included, the show included four pieces that went just over three hours in run-time. While the plays were unconventional in subject matter and setting, reviewer Alexis Soleski from The New York Times felt that the experimental setting choices didn’t fit majority of the plays well, yet still called their pieces “generous yet well-intentioned.”

The final performance of the evening, “Given the Present, the Future Does Not Depend on the Past”, proved to perplex, puzzle, and lose reviewer Alex Soleski.

The play tells of an actor that is obsessed with auto generated text experiences a series of foibles with his ex-girlfriend, an amateur lifestyle blogger. Throughout the show, the audience witnesses and actually follows them them as they argue in what Soloski calls an “unintelligible” manner.

Suddenly, a 30-member chorus appears and begins singing harmonies that are based on search engine terms and automated comments.

For those who don’t know about search engine optimization, it’s no wonder that the play was a blur of confusion. Search engine stats reflect that 75% of users will never get past the first page of Google search results.

Similarly, it seems reviewers will never be able to get past a surface-level understanding of this performance.