Frantic Neutrino aims for symmetry | AspenTimes.com
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Frantic Neutrino aims for symmetry

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The posted running time for the Neutrino Video Project is 40 minutes. Not much time, considering what the New York-based comedy troupe is attempting.

“Apocalypse Now” took Francis Coppola what, more than two years to slap together?

A featured show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Neutrino is scheduled to take on two more projects in Aspen: today at 8:30 p.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the St. Regis Ballroom. (The group debuted in Aspen on Wednesday.)

When Neutrino takes the stage, the company asks for three objects from the audience ” pretty standard stuff for an improv troupe. And then pandemonium breaks loose.

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A two-person Neutrino team, plus a crew member, takes off outside the theater to shoot a scene with one of the audience objects. Then another. Then another.

By the time the third team departs for who-knows-where, the first team should be back with video footage, ready to screen for the audience. Then as the second team returns with its video, the first team is back on location, shooting more scenes. And on and on, until there is a completed film.

“It’s very confusing if you haven’t seen it,” admitted Bob Wiltfong, a former TV reporter who helped co-found Neutrino in 1999, at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. “As an audience member, while you’re watching scenes take place [on-screen], you see out of the corner of your eye these runners frantically coming in with tape. So it’s very much a theater event.”

But the impressive part is that Neutrino also aims for a coherent cinema experience. Neutrino, which began doing its video projects a few years ago, doesn’t want unhinged scenes. They are looking to make a movie, with characters and plot.

“If we’re doing our jobs well,” said Wiltfong, “what you’ll see at first is disjointed, separate scenes. But by the end of the show, these relationships and scenes will interweave and touch one another. We want the audience to get a sense of, wow, this thing is tied together.

“If we do our job well.”

There is an iffiness to the project. Wiltfong estimates that 5 percent of the time, the project is more or less a complete failure due to technical glitches. Another 20 percent of the time, everything goes smoothly, but the improvisation is off. The rest of the time ” three-quarters ” Wiltfong considers the project a success.

And when you consider that two-thirds of the “Matrix” trilogy made no sense at all ” and they were working with a lot more time, money and crew ” Neutrino’s success rate is pretty respectable.

[Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com]


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