Nightmare (Before Christmas): The Experiment
It’s that time of year again when the old man with a white, long beard is checking his list; A list of who have been naughty or nice all year round. It’s funny to think that this is a myth some of us grew up with as children. To believe Santa is somewhere in the North Pole watching us through some kind of crystal ball, making his list and checking it twice.
You’re on his list. We’re all on that list. He has his eye on you. Creepy, right? Santa is one hell of a creepy pervert. At the Hayden Foundation, "highly-professionally trained" doctors examine the anxiety that may come with Christmas by conducting a series of experiments.
For their second year, Psycho Clan presents "Nightmare (Before Christmas): The Experiment," now playing at the Clemente Soto Velez center. This cultural and educational building couldn’t be a more eerie and spine-chilling place for such a theatrical, adrenaline-pumping experience. Not to mention that this play couldn’t be done without you, the audience... or shall I say patients?
Upon entering the building, you can’t help but notice the rundown walls, and the black and white checkered tiled floor that probably hasn’t been mopped in years. Doctors with clipboards and gas masks direct you with flashlights up a dark staircase and into an old school auditorium filled with gas. You are soon after informed that the gas you are inhaling is in fact a hallucinogenic.
There are ten experiments the audience will go through within 50 minutes. We immediately begin with our first experiment. Stimulus one: Humiliation.
"The season heightens people’s emotions, making it the perfect time to experiment on fear. Each emotion has its counterpart. Anticipation and excitement comes with fear of disappointment," said John Harlacher, who plays a doctor by the name of Number One. "We are making the traditions strange by debouching them and associating them with various gross and nasty things that we believe are also associated with them, just not spoken about."
The first experiment calls for an asshole in the audience. Once the asshole is called upon, he heads down to the center of the stage. The doctors reveal Subject A: The loser. Now, the loser is this scrawny and meek young man who is confined to a wheelchair. He’s the kind of guy who says the wrong thing at the wrong time, probably enjoys playing with magic cards, and has a horrific sense of style.
Subject B from the audience is the douchebag/asshole. The doctors now have Subject B run through a series of tests to prove that he is, in fact, the douchebag he claims to be. Tests include placing the classic "Kick Me" sign on Subject A’s back, drawing a mustache on his face and pouring shaving cream on his head. If he completes his task, the douchebag is rewarded with something he must wear throughout the remainder of the show.
The next experiment calls for four volunteers who are not shy but highly confident. The four patients who volunteer randomly happen to be all women. Stimulus two we soon find out is about humiliation. All patients are asked to remove their shoes as well as all weaves and hats. They are then asked to disclose a secret about themselves. All of them do, but with a little hesitation.
Next they are asked to remove their pants. "This is for science," one of the doctors claim. They all are highly reluctant. We learn that this is most likely agitation due to shame. After all, these four ladies did volunteer proclaiming that they are not at all shy. The doctors proceed to run through some more tests with these patients to test their limits.
All ten experiments range from fears and anxieties such as powerlessness, heartbreak, cruelty, paranoia, and dread. These are fears some of us witness or go through while trying to keep up with that holiday cheer. Perhaps the song should change up the lyrics a bit by saying, it’s the most fear-provoking time of the year. If you agree, you should check out "The Experiment." It’s brought to you and funded by Pokémon and Oprah Winfrey after all.