Open Eye Figure Theatre
Two local small theaters team up for a trip to a Victorian world that never was, full of mad scientists and trips to Mars. Each theater tackles its one-hour one act in wildly different ways. Hardcover Theater's The Diamond Lens is almost all talk as, in the usual style of director Steve Schroer, the action is heavily narrated. At the other extreme, there isn't a single line of dialogue in To Mars With Tesla, as the English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties piece is presented as a silent film, complete with musical score and title cards. The Hardcover piece, written in the 1850s by Fitz-James O'Brien, feels a lot more like Poe than the more Victorian science fiction of Verne and Wells. In it, a young student, Douglas Linley (Phillip Andrew Bennett Low) becomes so enamored with the microscopic world, and the beautiful creature he finds there, that he leaves his studies and eventually his sanity behind. The company, which also includes Dawn Krosnowski, Tim Uren, and Kezia Germ, does good work in keeping the narrative moving forward, but the piece could do with some trimming, which could add some of the intensity missing in the middle part of the show. Meanwhile, Joshua Scrimshaw and Adrienne English create a delightfully weird tale in which Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison take their battle out of the laboratory and out to far-off Mars. Scrimshaw's physical comedy skills and English's oddball choreography are the stars here, but again the whole company does strong work to make the action clear and funny.