Dallas — The blight of sci-fi T-shirts besmirching Dallas’ glitzy arts district will only last a few days. The infestation is concentrated around the Dallas City Performance Hall and the latest AT&T Performing Arts Center Off-Broadway on Flora installment.
Billed as a “live-action graphic novel,” The Intergalactic Nemesis is a live action radio play in front of a projection of comic book illustrations. It’s not theater for the discerning eye. It’s meant for the open arms and open mind of the Comic-Con set. As such, it scores a direct hit with its phasers set on fun.
How can you go wrong when you combine a wisecracking reporter, a heroic librarian, sludge-based aliens and a Frenchman with an outrageous accent? Don’t apply logic. The characters and circumstances are combined for their alchemical thrills not for any message. It’s a narrative form of instant gratification.
And there’s a reason for that.
Born of an idea from Ray Patrick Colgan, Jason Neulander invited Jessica Reisman, Julia Edwards and Lisa D’Amour to co-write a sci-fi serial. The scripts from each writer would be staged over a weekend and presented at a coffeehouse on Sunday night. If that seems like a complicated origin story, you can imagine what effect it has on the plot.
Neulander, who co-wrote this larger assemblage of story with Chad Nichols, directs the production. It features three actors playing 60 or so roles, a talented Foley (live sound effects) artist and a pianist (Collin Shook). Tim Doyle did the illustrations, which became a comic book which then formed the basis of the show, which features his illustrations.
Rachel Landon plays Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan with His Girl Friday sass. Brock England plays her sidekick, Timmy, with gee-whiz sincerity. They tackle other roles, too, of course as the need arises, but put together they don’t carry the weight of Jeff Mills, the third actor on the throwback microphones. His show-stealing characters like Mysterion the Magnificent, Ben Wilcott, the Librarian, or the audience favorite Frenchman are a big reason to see the show.
Center stage, however, is the incomparable Cami Alys who performs the sound effects with a wide range of old time gadgetry. Kids will particularly enjoy the ingenuity of using found objects to make the right noises to evoke a particular environment or plot point. Alys takes the endeavor further with impish looks and triumphant flourishes. She clowns her way through the evening in such a way that enlists us in her job. As quotable as the show was in the car on the way home, the real magic will be hearing the possibility in the noise of ordinary objects for the next couple of days.
That’s how you know sci-fi is good: when it opens up the ordinary. Suddenly, those T-shirts don’t look too bad.
How long is it ‘til Dallas Comic-Con?
» Read our interview with Jason Neulander