Young Stowaways in Space is hardly any kind of theatre you'd expect to see even if you absolutely knew you were going to see a 1962 sci-fi play. Inspired and innovative, TOSOS II recently took residence at the Intar Hispanic Arts Theatre to take us where no man has gone before -- reinterpreting a surprisingly homoerotic text.
The play starts out with several kids in an orphanage staying up late against the will of their adult supervisor. They begin reading Young Stowaways in Space and then jump into a presentation of the story. Two orphan boys named Garry (Jimmy Maize) and Patch (Justin Tyler) get to take a quickie tour in a spaceship thanks to the kindness of an old captain by the name of Mulroy (played hauntingly, and even creepily, by Casey Weaver). As they make their way back out of the ship, they get locked in the elevator, the spaceship takes off, and their adventure begins. In an effort to hide, they jump in a small shuttle that accidentally takes off into space. As they are drifting in space, a giant ship comes to their rescue. On board this ship they meet the Captain, a wealthy man from Earth who has left his planet to live with his small and varied crew in space. All is well as the boys enjoy a few days on the ship before returning home. Not so fast! The ship is headed for a crash, and there is little anyone can do to stop it. Escaping in their shuttle with all of their new friends, they land, get lost, have another mini-adventure, and then get reunited with their new family, where they learn that the captain has agreed to adopt them both.
The casting of this risky piece of theatre was immediately the most impressive aspect of the production. Assembling actors who are capable of making a parody of the very particular 1960s TV style is no easy task, and this band of thespians made the most of the opportunity -- using the likes of hula hoops, some workout mats, and a ladder as the set (provided by Carter Inskeep and Ryan Hilliard).
Tyler's physical features were right out of an episode of Lost in Space. With his wide eyes and constant state of awe, his impressionable disposition as the side-kick to Maize remained charming throughout.
Michael Hartney played the Captain and used the old Captain Kirk impersonation with an old-scientist twist that made for a laugh in the first few scenes.
Brian Charles Rooney played Ben. Blessed with the delicate facial features of a pristine fashion model, the actor got his hands dirty with a few hammy bits that required a bit of exaggerated facial contortion. Although Rooney and most of the other actors were present in most of the scenes, director Mark Finley placed them onstage to act as walls, doors, window, and various sorts of inanimate objects that left much room for "takes" to the audience.
Young Tony Tallon played Gino with a jolly flair as he tossed his pizza pies up in the air (sometimes they did not come down because of the whole being in outer space thing) while Joshua Polenberg played Klecker and other characters straight out of the Johnson Administration era.
Lead character Maize played Garry with such superb boyish innocence that it seemed impossible to imagine him as a functioning human being in the year 2004.
The most memorable performance was Weaver's recurrent role as Mulroy. Her contorted faces were so disturbingly entertaining that it they seemed to make the audience wince every time he/she spoke.
Helen Bessette was delightful as Katrinka the robot and striking as the voice of the ship, and Shay Gines played a jolly Mac onboard the ship.
Mary Meade designed the lighting scheme, which was multifaceted due to the nature of the space atmosphere, and Finley provided a sound design reminiscent of the period.
Chris Weikel costumed his cast in beige pants and white shirts -- a move that focused all the attention on the imagination of the cast and the audience. Tomoko Naka's robot costume, worn by Bessette, was fabulous and was a show in itself.
Stowaways showcased Finley's directorial genius in a way that surprised. The stylized execution of this play was daringly entertaining. TOSOS II did it again.
Lighting: 1/Sound: 2
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Copyright 2004 Jade Esteban Estrada