POINT BREAK LIVE : Review and Cultural Commentary

Final Weekend MAY 6&7

New Rock Theater, 3933 N. Elston Ave – Second Floor.


This is the first install of the editorial series, “We, the People” which looks at approachable and mainstream works in a cultural, fine art context. It is done with the hopes of encouraging the “high art” community to broaden its scope of of art worth considering, and argues against dismissing work for the simple reason that is has commercial appeal.

“this play is a homoerotic advanture”
“Um, no, it’s just a play about two guys.”
– Chuck and Buck (by Mike White, 2000)


Point Break Live is a stage adaptation of the guilty pleasure 1991 movie Point Break.  (Trivia: as bad as the movie was, it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, a member of Art & Language and Oscar award winner for the film “The Hurt Locker”

The stage adaptation is based on taking a member of the drunken audience and casting them to play Keanu Reeve’s starring role in a Sweded version (extreme low-tech adaptations) of the crime action thriller. (See below for information about their upcoming adaptation of “Predator”). Below is just one sample of the engaging dialogue:

Bodhi: [getting ready for their next robbery] 90 seconds Johnny. That’s all I ask for, just 90 seconds of your life Johnny, that’s it. This is our tatic, is we strike fear. Once you get them peeing down ther leg, they submit. Also about fear, fear causes hesitation, and hesitation, causes your worst fears to come true.

[hands Johnny a shot gun]

Johnny Utah: I can’t do this.

Bodhi: Yes you can, who knows, you might like it.

Johnny Utah: Bodhi, this is your fucking wake-up call man. I am an F, B, I, Agent!

Bodhi: Yeah, I know man. Ain’t it wild? That’s what makes it so interesting. You can do what you want, and make up your own rules. Why be a servant to the law, when you can be it’s master?

Grommet: Fuckin’ a!


So that madcap madness springs from there. The crazed surfers, detectives, cheap sets, men wearing boas, and the audience getting sprayed by water, artificial semen and blood. An ironing board plays the role of a surfboard, and  getting smothered by a blue tarp equates  a large ocean wave.  It’s entertaining and pretty much exactly what you’d expect, especially if you’re a fan of all-things Sweded like I am.

But here’s the interesting part, from an art and culture context: the audience. You’ve never seen so many former frat guys and blonde girls watching theatre in your entire life. Every single person is exactly 28 years old, never goes to theatre otherwise and when asked (and I asked a dozen people), “how did you learn about this show” could only slur the words “a friend told me about it.”

The cast, after a 45-day run, are a hybrid of actors, standup comics, bouncers and drunk-frat-guy-whisperers.  Their ability to work with the audience’s choice for the starring role, no matter how inebriated the audience member  may be, is simply commendable. Nay, seemingly impossible.  I asked the woman who play the Keanu-du-jour’s handler (and stand-in stuntwoman, and analog teleprompter) about her job, and she said they’ve never had a Keanu they couldn’t handle. This is, I repeat, astounding, as it’s a fairly intense live action role – the person is fed lines, tackled, tripped, coached on improv, and is often ordered to “take the line again”.

Anyway, from a marketing standpoint the post-Greek network that’s been tapped into for this thing equally dazzling. And $25 per ticket,  with a standing-room only crowd, this theatre company might be… paying their actors? Paying the crew? Creating a show that people want to see? This is striking opposition to most theatre marketing which asks you to see a show because, like flossing, it is believed that theatre is good for you.  (That’s why this “We, the  People” editorial series is based on those tiny pockets of arts and culture that get no critical attention, yet achieve massive audience support.)

Now for some critical analysis. One interesting question to ponder is the role of homoerotic subtext. The film is the typical macho adventure, in which, like Top Gun, you can read into the script and make an argument that the plot is a metaphor of an inner struggle with homosexuality http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111218/quotes (more trivia: the line “You can ride my tail anytime” is not actually a line from the movie) . The play brings out all the possible homoerotic readings and puts it blatantly into the script. At one point, the actor who plays Kathryn Bigelow, who comes on stage to give directions,  explains to the daily Keanu  “You let him go, because you are, after all, in love with him”.

So it’s an interesting point to ponder if the play is a vehicle for frat guys to laugh at gay male culture, OR a socially acceptable way for the mostly-male, heterosexual crowd to attend a gay-themed theatre production.

Either way, we at Chicago Art Magazine and Chicago-Performance.com will be watching the preproduction of Predator: The Musical, very closely.

Catch the two final showings of Point Break Live here https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/705735




– Show Description-

Point Break LIVE!, the Brechtian blockbuster which garnered a “Seattle P-I Best of Seattle 2004” award, as well as rave reviews across the nation, tells the story of former college football star Johnny Utah — Keanu Reeves in the film — who goes in pursuit of the surfing, bankrobbing, skydiving, bare-hand-fighting adrenaline-junkie-cum-Zen-master Bodhi Sattva. The show features armed robbery, big-wave surfing, car chases, explosions, and no less than two extended skydiving sequences.

Best of all, the starring role of Keanu will be selected at random from the audience each night, with the lucky winner reading their entire script off of cue-cards. This method manages to capture the rawness of a Keanu Reeves performance even from those who generally think themselves incapable of acting.

Critics and audiences around the nation agree, Point Break LIVE! is the best stage adaptation of an action movie in the history of the world. Called “Hilarious” by VARIETY and The Chicago Reader, and “Uproarious” by the LA TIMES, “Point Break Live!” tells the story of former College-football-star-turned-FBI-agent, Johnny Utah, in pursuit of the surfing, bank robbing, skydiving, bare-hand-fighting adrenaline-junkie-cum-Zen-master Bodhi Sattva.

Okay as if that weren’t awesome enough, check this out: In Point Break LIVE! the lead role of Johnny Utah is played by an audience member. Yes, anyone can volunteer and step up to the challenge of a grueling (meaning fairly ridiculous) audition process . Using the latest in Applaus-o-Meter technology, the winner is chosen by the audience and Add in the hotness factor- surfer dudes and female stunt doubles and you have a night of live theater that rivals anything by Samuel Beckett in terms of pure excitement and energy. goes on to star as action hero Johnny Utah for the night, reading all the lines off of cue cards. This method really catches the essential rawness of Keanu Reeves’ acting style.

This, high action punk rock style theatrical experience comes complete excessive gunfire , swearing, chase scenes, fight choreography, football tackles, fake blood, explosions, and of course an indoor monsoon. Mix that up with all the wonderfully iconic quotes from the movie like “Utah, get me two,” “I am an F-B-I Agent!” and “Are we going to jump or jerk off?, add in the hotness factor- surfer dudes and female stunt doubles- and you have a night of live theater that rivals anything by Samuel Beckett in terms of pure excitement and energy.

$5 discount opening weekend with discount code: reloaded

WARNING: Point Break LIVE! is a wild interactive theatrical experience, and it is not for the squeamish, faint of heart or those afraid of getting fake blood on their clothing. Leave the designer outfits at home.