Four people crouch around a campfire. The one on the right is in a tiger onesie.
The cast of Caveman Play at Red Theater Credit: Faith Kelsey Photography

Clare Brennan directs Savannah Reich’s 2017 silly/smart comedy about the dawn of civilization—and the audience gets to decide how it works out in the end. Dandelion (Tess Galbiati) and Rocky (Jack Rodgers) are the world’s first farmers. They’ve moved indoors. They’ve even adopted a cat—albeit a talking, often aggravated tiger called Douglas (Evan Cullinan)—and are trying to make a different sort of society than the hunter-gatherers all around them.

What starts as a hopeful presentation to entice others (us) to join their cause is complicated by the arrival of the chaotic Chicken Feathers (Hannah Antman). There’s some history between them and Rocky that drives a schism with Dandelion and not only because Chicken Feathers is completely opposed to the agricultural track Dandelion is so gung ho about.

Caveman Play
Through 12/30: Wed-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; no show Sun 12/24; The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa,, $25; limited number of $10 access tickets available for “students, artists, or anyone on a tight budget” (pay-it-forward tickets, available for $50, help sustain the access tickets program).

Though these characters are cartoonishly broad, the issues they debate are hardly a joke. They may be cave people, but with their synthesizer, slideshow, and cellphones, they’re awfully contemporary—and the questions they have about whether we’ve gone off track as a species are evergreen.

I’m not typically a fan of audience participation in theater, but this play involves us in the outcome of their/our big decision in a thoughtful and unusual way. Sure, it’s fun to have a tiger sing a song made up of the names of things we fear and are saddened by. But deciding whether to control the natural world or attempt to live in some sort of harmony with it is no laughing matter and still needs answering.