Bearing in mind that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, I have to say: Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical is a great work of post-postmodernist art.
A couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, Skittles dropped a commercial featuring the actor Michael C. Hall ( Six Feet Under , Dexter , pus Cabaret and Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway), in which he explained that he was going to be in a Skittles commercial that wouldn’t air during the game. The ad would be a live show staged on Broadway; people would have to buy tickets, and it wasn’t going to be live-streamed or broadcast.
Indeed, on February 3 at the Town Hall in New York City, Michael C. Hall took to the stage to sing and dance his way through a half-hour-long musical ad for Skittles, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno — and, reader, we went.
There are — or were , given that the show will only ever be performed once — so many layers of self-awareness to Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around.
Fake knock-off tees were sold outside the theatre; concessions consisted solely of Skittles (obviously); and the stage was an operational bodega (cash only), also selling Skittles, and complete with a random guy hanging out too close to the till. The Playbill included fake ads (a holiday package to North Korea; a picture of furniture under the words “nothing unusual here”) as well as random games (a connect-the-dots portrait of Michael C. Hall, tagged, “connect all 50 dots, or don’t connect them;” a quiz matching the actors to different types of chairs with a hint later in the booklet detailing one pairing and “no other matches”).
Then the actual musical began.
The alternate term for post-postmodernism is “metamodernism,” which strikes a little closer to home in the case of Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical . Almost instantly, with conversations being punctuated by ’90s sitcom musical stingers and Michael C. Hall (as Michael C. Hall) once again explaining that the ad was a live musical that people had to buy tickets for and not a televised production, it became clear that Skittles Commercial was operating on another plane of reality.
The rough arc of the show is this: Michael C. Hall has agreed to star in a Skittles commercial, but experiences doubt about shilling for a major corporation. After eating some Skittles, however, he changes his mind — he can taste the rainbow! — only to be heckled offstage by the gathered audience (plants). Outside the theater (as depicted via a scrim, and after a full fake-out show ending), Hall is accosted by the leaving audience members, who he then takes into yet another dimension by informing them that they’re all actors. In a fit of anger over their lack of free will, they kill him. Naturally, it doesn’t end there: the entire last number, featuring the ghost of Michael C. Hall, crows about a nearly imperceptible rise in Skittles sales thanks to the musical.