Theatre changes, theatre evolves, new media penetrate the auditorium in order to keep pace with developments elsewhere in popular culture, but sometimes the best way to incorporate the future is to look back. In this case the time and place is New York, 1942, the bustle and excitement of an intersection of time, space and fast action on the cusp of the entry of the United States to World War II, unaware another war is already taking place, not between races or ideologies but between species…
It’s been twenty years since writer Jason Neulander first came up with the idea of The Intergalactic Nemesis and Twin Infinity is the third stage production under that banner, following Target Earth and Robot Planet Rising, but it is the first which has reached these shores with a month long engagement at Pleasance One, though no previous knowledge of the story is required.
With Christopher Lee Gibson acting as a carnival barker to warm the crowd and prepare them for how the afternoon will unfold, the premise is simple but effective: on stage he, Brock England and Rachel Landon will perform a dashing tale of danger and excitement across multiple characters, assisted by Harlan Hodges on piano and organ and foley artist Kelly Matthews with her extraordinary array of equipment, while behind them the art of David Hutchison is projected to create the “live action graphic novel.”
Prepare to cheer the heroes, and boo and hiss the villains, of which there are many, because the wedding of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Molly Sloan to geneticist Ben Wilcott has just been derailed by the absence of the groom.
While Molly’s father seethes about her $200 dress, she takes a more pragmatic approach and tries to locate her missing fiancé only to find – Ben Wilcott. But not the man she knew, the man she once knew in another time, a Ben Wilcott – from the future!
With old style microphones, dinner jacket and evening dress, the style and enthusiasm are of a period radio adventure serial, that requisite distance is reflected in the fact that the best seats in the house are actually a few rows back to allow a proper perspective for appreciating both the performers and the artwork, over a thousand vibrant images during the ninety minute show.
With the versatile cast churning out the rapid fire dialogue the pace is frantic, Landon’s Molly sharp but tempestuous, Gibson’s Wilcott – both of them – smart about everything except the opposite sex, and England flitting between the scheming Doctor Heinrich Heinermuellerschlossenschlagermeisterschloss and the more amenable sidekick Sujeet Ranahamnaravna with oily delight, and with a consistently breathless tone half the fun is seeing the timing of the performers and the effects match the images in this creatively staged show.
It’s not highbrow entertainment but it’s a joyous and enthusiastic afternoon out for the family, and while the running time might be a stretch for the youngest of the target audience it is certainly value for money with never being a dull moment as it follows the classic format of dashing about the globe with over-the-top performances and daring escapes from dastardly villains.