Reviewed by Brian M. Carroll
60 Min | Comedy | PG
Summer is a time for fluffy cotton candy and popcorn. In the 50s, that popcorn was accompanied by cheesy B-movies including science fiction (eg. Plan 9 from Outer Space and Creature from the Black Lagoon) and film noir (eg. Kiss Me Deadly, based on a Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer novel). So what better time for cheesy summer theatre based on 50s B-movies than at the Fringe?
Leaping to the task is Dead Unicorn Ink, of last year’s twice mounted Playing Dead featuring zombie puppets. The “plot” includes mad scientist Dr. Phineas Grimm, whose interest is to make things bigger … and give them lasers. Tom Charlebois overacts outrageously as Grimm, much to the delight of the audience. So the puppets are bigger this year: eg. a giant man-eating lizard and a tentacle monster.
Grimm’s niece, Selma Widowmaker is the femme fatale of the piece. Marissa Caldwell has a lot of fun playing this dangerous woman, and showing a lot of leg. Grimm has gone missing, so Widowmaker enlists Private Detective Rick “call me Dick” Derringer to find him. I’d credit the actor who plays Derringer, but programs seem to be out of fashion at this year’s Fringe. Caldwell gets to make lots of “dick” jokes, making the audience chuckle.
Derringer calls an old military buddy. The call involves a sight gag that I won’t reveal, and the buddy’s words are from a Muppets song. The buddy sends them to Captain Kit Hammerfist (get it? Mike Hammer?), played with appropriate silliness by Mike Doiron. Hammerfist’s only talents are ordering his first officer Patty Stream (aka. P. Stream) around, and showing off his “deck” to Widowmaker.
Stream, played by Sylvie Recoskie, is more than just a pretty face; she’s the only human who does any work on the multi-dimensional space dirigible that takes them to the planet where Grimm continues his research. Stream is held back by her awe for Hammerfist, and her unrequited attraction to Grimm’s geeky assistant, Bunsen (again uncredited).
The script provides the entire cast opportunities to make lots of silly jokes while keeping straight faces, drawing out considerable laughter from the audience. There are more special effects and props which I won’t reveal, because they’re so much more fun seen for the first time. There’s a very capable two-piece band providing singing, piano and guitar.
Space Mystery…from Outerspace! by Jeremy Doiron is playing at Venue 1 – Arts Court Theatre on Saturday June 16 at 2:00pm, Sunday June 17 at 12:30pm, Tuesday June 19 at 9:30pm, Thursday June 21 at 8:30pm, and Friday June 22 at 10:00pm. Tickets are $10.