“Gee whiz Rocky! There’s too many of them!” says Chip Skipper, best pal and lieutenant cheerleader for the plucky crew of the X-1 rocketship. “Easy does it, Chip! We’ll get out of this,” says Rocky. (And they do. They don’t call him Rocky Lazer, Captain of Space for nothin’!)
No Tea Production’s new play Space Captain: Captain of Space! is a hilarious and reverential homage to the great American sci-fi tropes of the 20th century. Rocky Lazer (Matthew Wise) is our titular Space Captain. He’s on a mission to save Earth from Evil King Xayno From Outer Space (Jeff Sproul, who is also the play’s author). Accompanying him is professor Horst Karlock (Jared Warner), designer of the X-1 rocket, Jean Jarvis (Alicia Barnatchez), daughter of the US president and first woman professor, and Chip Skipper (Jeremy Mather), all purpose sidekick. On the way they run into a race of squirrel people, avoid being seduced by the emperor’s daughter, and prevent the moon from slipping its orbit and destroying humankind. All in a day’s work.
Jeff Sproul’s script is a sly reminiscence of classic sci-fi from our childhood (assuming you were a child in the late 70s and early 80s) seen through the eyes of adulthood. The plot is 80% 1980 cult classic Flash Gordon, and 20% Star Wars. Much of the cleverness of Mr. Spoul’s script comes from satirizing the heroicness of the character types in Flash Gordon. Rocky Lazer / Flash Gordon is transformed from childhood (childish?) hero to classic miles gloriosus, and irascible Dr. Hans Zarkov becomes irritating Dr. Horst Karlock. Jean Jarvis / Dale Arden is ironically promoted from hothouse flower to Rocky’s intellectual and emotional equal. Sproul makes a point of undercutting (or reinforcing?) this irony, however, when King Xayno asks Jean what subject she professes, and she answers “I don’t know really. No one asks me that. Science maybe?”
What makes this production go from passably funny to effing awesome? The production. Half of the show is live, on stage, and half of the show is projected onto a movie screen. If the integration of the live and recorded action weren’t seamless, this would be distracting, but Lindsey Moore Sproul’s direction fits the pieces together so tightly it glimmers like the burnished steel exoskin of the X-1 rocket. But that’s not nearly all. The production also features delightful puppetry, well choreographed fights, an original score, and dialogue so snappy you’ll think they left a mousetrap in your seat.
A lot of creativity and a lot of work went into this production, which is all the more impressive because many of the actors on stage were involved in technical aspects of the play — for example Jeremy Mather (Chip Skipper) is also the video designer and producer, the assistant stage managers double as alien centurions, Ms. Sproul doubles as director and set designer, and last but not least, Mr. Sproul not only wrote the play and plays the heavy, he also designed the space ships! Seriously, what more can you ask for?
Through September 15th
$20 General Admission: Tickets