Can You Detect the Truth in “The Ravages of Now”?

Non-State Actors latest production tackles cults and their susceptible nature in The Ravages of Now. The devised play puts the audience in the middle of a meeting for, “The Collective,” a no-technology, non-religious group who are eagerly looking to recruit new members. Once taken into the fold of The Collective, audiences are exposed to a weirdly brilliant production that leaves you questioning everything.

As previously mentioned, The Ravages of Now is a devised play, which means the performance originates from collaborative and mostly improvisational work by the performing ensemble. That being said, most devised works have a fixed or partly fixed form by the time it is shown to an audience, as is the case with this production. It’s clear the show has a loose structure, but everything in between that seems to rely mostly on audience participation and the actor’s ability to think on their feet. So there isn’t much in the way of a plot. All you need to know going in is that you are attending a meeting where members from The Collective are giving insight into their group and are looking to recruit new members. Throughout the evening the audience has the opportunity to ask questions and mingle with the members of The Collective to learn more about the organization.

The production takes place at The Glitter Box Theater, which provides an excellent space for a production of this nature. Since the show itself is more or less a meeting, the space is set up as such. Couches and comfy chairs cover the room, and the whole space feels like a relaxed, chill environment. Audience members can choose to sit wherever they like–however, I wouldn’t recommend getting too comfortable.

This was definitely an experience I was not expecting. Because the actors and the audience interact throughout the entire production, it’s hard to tell where the show begins and ends, which I found exciting. I was on my toes the whole evening unsure of what to expect next. What I also found unique about this production is its possibility for audiences to leave with a different experience than their neighbors. There were several moments throughout the night where you could have an aside with one of the actors, or be pulled into an activity, or be around to hear a “private” conversation. I think a lot of this experience is what you make of it, and how far you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. The more willing and open you are, the more likely you’ll experience the show to its fullest.

The cast consists of only six actors, all who bring their own charisma and charm to their characters. Like I mentioned earlier, each audience member will experience this show in different ways, so they may also interact with certain actors more than others. In my case I had the chance to interact with The Reporter, The Zealot, and The Scientist. The Reporter, played by Hannah Brizzi, does a great job in keeping you questioning The Collective and their intentions. While the other actors reel you in, she pulls you out and reminds you to not believe everything you see. The Zealot, played by Rachelmae Pulliam, is warm and kind the minute you enter the space. They reminded me one of the characters from Midsommar; someone who is way too nice to not be hiding something. I got the chance to finger-paint with them, and while they were friendly, it was an eerie friendliness that puts you on edge. It’s a great balance to have throughout the cast; it makes you question if The Collective is legitimate or not. The Scientist, played by Matt W/2 T’S, has knowledge to spare and information to pass on if you’re open to listen. The Scientist has other ideas than the group on how to reach “collective transcendence” (which is the group’s goal), and if you’re willing to lend an ear, they will gladly tell you all about it. The cast also features: Michael Barnett, who plays The Leader, Elena Falgione, who plays The Initiate, and Harry J Hawkins IV who plays The Traveler. All bring wonderful fun to their characters and make the evening a truly memorable one.

The Ravages of Now is a fun experience that will have you questioning yourself and the world around you. It’s weird in all the right ways, and pushes you out of your comfort zone. If you plan on checking the show out, I would highly recommend being open to the experience and letting it take you where it wants to go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and interact with the actors and/or other audience members. You’ll surely have more fun that way, and you’ll get to experience the show in a unique way.


The Ravages of Now plays through November 16 at The Glitter Box Theater.


Jade Goodes is a graduate of Penn State University where she received her degree in English. While attending Penn State she became the Managing Editor for the school’s literary & arts magazine, Absence. Jade has been involved with the Pittsburgh theater community since elementary school, and has performed in many productions over the years. In her free time she enjoys reading and attending all the concerts she can.

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