Return to the Forbidden Planet by Bob Carlton. Phoenix Players directed by Janine O'Dwyer. Musical director, Steve Herczeg. Belconnen Community Centre October 20 - November 4, 2000, 8pm.
Great Balls of Fire is the theme of this blend of The Tempest and the 1950's sci fi movie The Forbidden Planet, with a set designed by Kelda McManus drawing on Metropolis, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Dr Who and Alien. Could anyone ask for more? Not much, if the applause and clapping in time with Great Balls at the end on opening night was anything to go by.
It's a complex show technically, with live rock and roll, acoustic trumpets, wired and radio mikes, video of strange planets, creatures from Dr Prospero's subconscious id, and George Huitker as a Puckish Newsreader who closed the show asking that the critics be kind. Well, I'm certainly inclined that way, though it was unfortunate that Science Officer/Gloria had to sing her romantic farewell without amplification. Kelda McManus, in Gloria's role, will get that fixed pronto.
The cast was an effective ensemble: no weak points, but some special strengths in Matt Kelly as Cookie, Luke Barron as the robot Ariel, with some nice work from Melissa Franks as Miranda. The band was strong and together, and the audio mixing good most of the time, except occasionally when mikes came up a bit late. Lighting was both well designed and well executed. The technical side of this kind of show in a Community Centre is always a nightmare, but Chris Neal and Paul Cortese put it together well.
It was particularly pleasing to hear all the actors handle Shakespeare's lines clearly and meaningfully. Of course, the show wouldn't work without lines like "To beep or not to beep, that's the question", but there are many speeches which I've heard mangled in their original contexts, let alone when they are dragged out and deliberately dumped into the weird situations in this space odyssey. Phoenix rose to the occasion, and got the laughs they deserved.
Timing is all in comedy, and the first night pacing was a little slow. I'm sure this will pick up, so drop in to Belconnen for a fun night out.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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