Monday, October 27, 2008

The Moon Is a Dead World is so alive at Annex - Friday, October 25, 2008:

This play opens with Russian cosmonauts dealing with the calamitous number of dead cosmonauts that have died in service of Russia's race with America into space. These cosmonauts know that there is no time to fix the mistakes that have brought down other rockets, so they know they are going to their death when their flight rotation is up.

This fascinating concept gets more fascinating when one of these cosmonauts ends up in an American observation post, having come back from the dead. The Americans can't believe what they're seeing and the cosmonaut can't understand what just happened to him. However, he realizes that he can read minds and repair his body, and is essentially God-like.

Annex's production, while typically low-budget, is an amazing display of MacGyverism, with working radio equipment, selectively connected lighting and a whole bunch of wedding dress material. Christopher Comte's crisp direction and Max Reichlin's great set design, along with Nate Redford's lighting and Michael Hayes' excellent sound support create a great reality for this unreal play.

The four actors - Zachariah Robinson as the cosmonaut Gregor, Jack Hamblin and Clayton Weller as the Americans in the outpost, and Pamala Mijarov as a female cosmonaut that is resurrected due to Gregor's love for her - are all excellent. Robinson is, at first, a vulnerable, bumbling would-be lover who becomes more and more of a megalomaniac as he understands his God-like power. Jack Hamblin is strong and pragmatic as the older, wiser American. Clayton Weller does a great second banana to the older guy, but finds himself more flexible mentally. Pamala Mijatov has a understated resolve and competence as the love who would not return love, and is all business as a tough cosmonaut.

Some of the dialogue is unforgettably pointed, as when Gregor agrees that he does know the future and what will happen, and Hamblin's character tells him, "Don't ruin it for the rest of us." In context, it's a terrific aphorism for how humanity must live life. Laughs come from unexpected twists and from sometimes grim dialogue with absurd lines thrown in. This is one of the best efforts Annex Theatre has produced, and that's saying a lot.

2:52 PM