The Intergalactic Nemesis!

Let me begin by saying I did not see the Oscars last night, and while I would love to have witty things to say, a perspective to impart, I have nothing to offer on that topic. Where was I, rather than plopped in front of my TV or at some viewing party in the city?  I was at a performance of The Intergalactic Nemesis at The Schimmel Performing Arts Center in Pace University.  The Intergalactic Nemesis is a sci-fi radio drama and graphic novel (the graphic novel is projected behind the performers and the foley artist who perform live).  I'm a big fan of the classic radio drama, and it would have made sense that I'd seen this show long before now.  It's been performed in Austin for many years, has expanded from one production to include two follow up episodes in the saga, and has a devoted following across the US.  My reservations?  I'll admit to being a touch fearful of the camp factor.

It's very easy to poke fun at the tropes of the old radio drama, overdo the performances, and sprinkle in plenty of schmaltz without really respecting the form and how wonderful it can be for communicating a story.  Luckily, I had nothing to worry about last night, and my hopes for what the show could be were exceeded as the production nimbly treads the fine line of camp and dramatic stakes.  The artwork is superb, the performances lively, and the story commanding.  In short, it made for a lot of fun, and I was really happy to see my dear friend Julie Linnard up there shining like a lil' star as the female voice-actor in the ensemble.

If I had a quibble?  It's so minor, but I would probably have preferred not to know that any of the score was improvised.  The accompaniment is rousing, beautifully supports the story, and is so skillfully played that highlighting the idea of it being improvised became more of a distraction than a selling point.   I begin to wonder just how much of it was actually unique to the evening, knowing that it was taken from a composer's skeleton and  performed over and over.  Even if it was one-hundred percent new, I would prefer to enjoy it for its own merit than for the idea that it is improvised.  But that's me,

The show is a real crowd pleaser, appropriate for a family audience, and a perfect way to keep this form of story telling vibrant and relevant.  I found myself both enjoying the work and in awe of all the hands that went into making this such an enduring tradition in its own right.  I was also happy to see a female protagonist without the trumpets and fanfare that usually accompany such a decision.