STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER PLANET
nytheatre.com review by David Fuller
One of the noble features of FringeNYC
is that it provides a venue and audience for the development of new work
with commercial aspirations. Such a piece is being presented by Ring of
Fire Productions, Inc., at The Play Room on Lafayette Street: a
ninety-minute rock musical called Strange News from Another Planet.
The musical features five talented actors playing multiple roles (Katie
Brack, Katharine Clark Gray, Jay Kiman, J. Todd Howell, and Linq Yim) in
a fanciful tale adapted by Sheila Callaghan from stories by Herman Hesse.
The heavy metal score is by Michael Alltop, who co-wrote the lyrics with
August 15, 2003
On a simple, effective set designed by Mark Fitzgibbons, the actors tell us a story set in the aftermath of a future war—an allegory relayed through the imagery of archetypes and bracketed by an "unearthly" announcer who is accompanied by ironic flash media super titles. It is the story of Owen (Yim), a man from a peaceful land who is literally dropped into a war-ravaged land by Bird (Howell), a vulture like being whose only interest in war (and death) is epicurean. It is also the story of Emil (Kiman) who comes home to this place after touring the cosmos as a galactic correspondent. Who and what they encounter, and their interaction, make up the body of the piece.
The actors are all versatile and well cast. Highlights include Yim’s pure rock-band-front singing Owen, Brack’s wonderful dancing zombie Dead Woman, Howell’s pragmatic black-boa-enshrouded Bird, Kiman’s honest earthy-unearthly Emil, and Gray’s marvelous versatility in each of four very different roles.
The material has potential and I hope that this project will have another incarnation. The story is intriguing and the dramaturgy is clever, with themes that certainly resonate with today’s audience. And the bracketing device is original and fun. What needs the most work is the music, which sounds largely the same. Perhaps the songs should be more clearly defined as different rock genres?
At any rate the audience seemed to enjoy itself. You will certainly feel you’ve been entertained if you go. And I encourage you to attend. These folks are onto something. You could be a part of the genesis of the next The Rocky Horror Picture Show.