Things didn’t start well for this performance of Summer Nights in Space with a technical hitch delaying the start. As a lot of the show involves projected images, it didn’t really help matters that when this finally did work, it wasn’t properly aligned and rather than the lovely central projection you can see in the photo at the top of this page, everything was slightly adrift of centre.
The show itself is billed as “a glam space rock musical, rooted in classic science fiction, using the bizarre setting of musical theatre to combine the song and dance of entertainment with the really big questions”. Unfortunately the only thing that stuck from that sentence was ‘bizarre’. The plot was clunky in places, the songs were lacklustre and instantly forgettable and if there was any dancing, I somehow managed to miss it.
With a cringe-worthy rap towards the end, the credibility of the show finally disappeared into a black hole. The band, though accomplished players, were a further distraction sat awkwardly in white boiler suits, ‘wacky’ alien glasses and sparkly deely boppers looking like they’d lost their way to a sinister children’s party.
To be fair to the team behind this, in terms of musical theatre shows, it is still in its infancy. It’s just over a year since writer Henry Carpenter created the show, and it does have some strong parts to it; there are the seeds of a good plot in there somewhere and the main character, Captain John Spartan (Matthew Jacobs Morgan) is fairly developed and interesting. The computer with a conscience has possibly the best lines in the show, though the concept is hardly original.
It’s worth noting that despite the quality of the songs and the lack of laughs in the script, Matthew Jacobs Morgan did an impressive job of putting the most into the material he had to work with.
Hopefully with some more development (personally I’d look at cutting some of the songs and just keep a few strong numbers), this show will come back next year and be more of a red giant than the white dwarf it currently is. Potential, but a long way to go.
Summer Nights in Space is running as part of VAULT festival until 19th February
“Joe Eyre was mesmerising to watch, keeping the audience hanging on every word”
Written and performed by Joe Eyre (co starring Rhiannon Sommers), Crocodile is running as part of this year’s VAULT Festival at the Network Theatre. The play explores how the lives of Alan and Jane have changed considerably, now that they have a child, who just happens to be a crocodile.
On first reading the press release, I wondered if this was a play for children given its somewhat bizarre description; yet this turned out to be a very dark comedy, with some snappy (first and last crocodile related line) twists along the way. Certainly not one for the kids.
In terms of the set, there is a chair and little else, give or take a couple of props along the way. The play is split into two monologues, offering first the perspective of Alan and then for the latter (and shorter) part, a view point from Jane.
The show started slightly uncomfortably as Alan speaks toward the audience to address someone (possibly Jane, a neighbour or someone else … I was unsure …), about whether they have called the police, or the zoo. A lady in the front row was answering the questions – not sure whether this was the aim, but it was a little bit like a fingernails on a blackboard moment. This was the start of the play, so at that point I’d predicted this was an omen of worse to come.
Thankfully, this seemed to be just a hiatus in what otherwise became a more and more intriguing and captivating performance. Joe Eyre was mesmerising to watch, keeping the audience hanging on every word as the plot twisted and turned from being the story of happy new parents into something much more sinister and gruesome.
This is described as a dark comedy, and there are some clever lines (aided by Eyre’s sharp delivery), that keep you smiling. Yet it’s mostly not a laugh out loud piece, and that’s not a criticism as it works chillingly well just the way it is.
Rhiannon Sommers does a great job in relating Jane’s story but it’s Joe Eyre who steals the limelight. Crocodile has a lot of potential. A few tweaks here and there and this has the makings of a memorable piece.
Produced by Joyous Gard and directed by Matt Maltby, Crocodile is at VAULT Festival 2017 until 5 February.