Reviewed by Lovell Estell III
Theatre of NOTE
Through May 30.
This full-pedal lampoon by Bill Robens brings a new layer of meaning to the term “space odyssey.” It’s 1973, the Cold War is raging, Women’s Lib is a growing movement, Dick Nixon is President, and Houston Mission Control is preparing for launch. But this crew of astronauts isn’t exactly PC or conventional. There’s gung-ho cowboy Red Jackson (Trevor H. Olsen), hyper macho chauvinist Scott Derickson (Nicholas S. Williams), and the USA’s first female in space Captain Samantha McKinley (Alina Phelan). The mission: Test board-games in space and hook up with Russia’s Sputnik (a bleep-blooping little creature with antennas sprouting from silver, medicine ball shaped head).
The goofy group at Mission Control is commanded by a large mouth with square shoulders a crew cut and bad attitude (David Wilcox), and a scientist (Justin Okin), who uses a potato as a power source. Toss in a little office romance, a pair of cartoonish Russians, some Cold War intrigue and a smattering of creaky one-liners and you have just enough funny for lift off, although Robens’ script sometimes strains for laughs, and the performances of director Cristopher William Johnson’s cast are a bit jagged.
The real kick is the zany assortment of “zero- gravity” gadgets and effects. These include floating chess pieces and puppets, courtesy of Andrew Leman. Krystyna Łoboda has designed a doozy of a spaceship mock-up, a tilted monstrosity that is viewer friendly, and Kimberly Freed provides an appropriate and convincing assortment of costumes for the flight.
Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 pm., Sun., 7 pm.; thru May 30. (323) 856-8611, www.theatreofnote.com