Fringe By Numbers: Day Four, "The Virginity of Astronauts"
Day Four, 4:00 p.m. Time Slot Show:The Virginity of Astronauts Company: The Electric Telescope Theatre Company Venue: Intermedia Arts Die Roll: 9
I like Intermedia Arts as a venue. I like the fact that it has art in the lobby. I like the fact that there is a small parking lot on the North side of the building that somehow people seem to not know about. There is always a place to park (now watch me never find a spot again due to mentioning it here). Unfortunately, my affection for Intermedia Arts is not being reciprocated right now. It is doing cruel things to me. Cruel and evil things like making me sit through The Virginity of Astronauts.
There are so many questions to be asked about this production, but the main one is... What the hell is going on here? I am quite familiar with the Greek myth of Ion. One of the first classical monologues I learned in college was from the play Ion by Euripides. I know the tale that this play was supposed to be telling, and I still couldn't tell what was going on half the time.
I guess I should insert the official show description here so you can know what I'm talking about. No need for you to be as confused by my review as I was by their show: "A science-fiction adaptation of Euripides play "Ion". A persistent knock on a spaceship's door near Mars... who's there? Two astronauts face a powerful being's plan to control the universe in this updated Greek drama."
There you go. So... Ion. First off, nothing kills me more than mispronunciation of a main character's name. Especially when used right next to words derived from it. Did anyone bother to look up the pronunciation of Ion? The odd thing is they pronounced it right in the word Ionic, but then bastardized it three words later when using it as the guy's name!
Granted, that's being nitpicky. Let's look at the real problems with this play. First, it is told in episodic structure. Many a sci-fi story it told this way. Problem in this case? The overwhelming gaps left between the scenes. Imagine, if you will, reading Romeo & Juliet, but having every third word left out, along with the characters of Paris, Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, and Tybalt, then read all of Juliet's lines backward, and only read Romeo's lines if he is talking to a male character. That's about how much this play made sense.
Some exposition is given from time to time, but it isn't exposition that actually informs the scenes at all. Not to mention it is incorporated in ways that make it stand out and make even less sense. One sign of a good playwright is how well they hide the necessary exposition within the dialogue of the play. Not only is the exposition not hidden here, it has been painted bright pink and given a bullhorn to announce its presence. And yet, for some reason it is still unnecessarily cryptic. Much of the writing felt as if it was the goal of this group to say, Hey! We get this stuff and you don't! Nyah, nyah, nyah!
The acting was inconsistent at best. The direction seemed to be lacking. The music was pretty good, but some of the songs seemed to be put in for no good reason.
Oh! This was an audio-described performance. I'm not sure how the audio-description would have made this any more clear, but I would've paid good money to have heard what they said in the attempt.
Rating: d4 = Not Worth The Time
Ten Word Summary: The most universally powerful force? According to this play? Confusion!
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