Priscilla Dreams The Answer–And The Answer Is 42

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The ensemble of Priscilla Dreams the Answer. Left to Right: Bob Mussett (Harry), Dakota Shepard (Zop), Caroline L. Price (Priscilla), Michael Caminiti (Simon), Emily Kaye Lazzaro (Zip). Photo Credit: Sarah E. Farbo

Priscilla Dreams The Answer by Walt McGough, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre, 12/8/11-12/17/11,  http://www.freshinktheatre.com/on-stage.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Douglas Adams would be proud of Walt McGough.  While Priscilla does not have to deal with a world that is already destroyed, she does have to find the answer to save both the Earth and another planet that has a close relationship with the Earth.  This clever and witty play takes the audience on a journey through space and time but never loses sight of the core humanity, which is the test of well-crafted science fiction.

Many single women can identify with Priscilla (Caroline L. Price)–perhaps not in her activities but in the lonely nights at home on the couch watching tv, feeling little connection to the rest of the world.  Her connections come from watching game shows and talking with her boss at the hobby shop.  The aliens notice her sensitive, empathetic nature and enlist her help to save both our planet and theirs.

The entire cast narrates the story in addition to being participants.  This device allows the story to swirl around–dreamlike and provides humorous commentary that keeps the play from taking itself too seriously.  The movement designed by director Melanie Garber gives the play a dance-like quality that provides a poetic quality of whimsy that tends to get lost in the reality of day-to-day life.

The cast enhances the reality of these unrealistic circumstances through their genuine and thoughtful performances.  As Priscilla, Caroline L. Price perceptively plays a woman lost in a confusing world that’s made up of too many questions and not enough answers.  With the help of the aliens, Harry, and Simon, Price allows Priscilla to open up to strength that she did not know she had.  Priscilla adores Simon, played by Michael Caminiti.  Simon has been a contestant on most game shows and is an obvious choice for Priscilla’s attraction since she spends most of her evenings watching game shows.  Michael Caminiti imbues Simon with both a child-like innocence and gravity of someone who knows too much.

Priscilla’s boss Harry (Bob Mussett) provides the support and idiosyncrasy Priscilla needs to go on her journey.  As Harry, Mussett is the uncle that no one talks about but that everyone really loves.  The instigators of Priscilla’s journey are Zip (Emily Kay Lazzaro) and Zop (Dakota Shepard) who are aliens from planet that is tightly connected with Earth.  They need Priscilla to help them stop the imminent destruction of both planets.  Lazzaro and Shepard are quirky and do excellent alien voice work (sometimes like Mork from Mork and Mindy) .

Fresh Ink Theatre’s inaugural trip into the realm of new plays is compelling and balanced.  Walt McGough’s script is tight and imaginative without any pretense or self-indulgence.  He understands Douglas Adams’ claim that the answer is 42.  The cast, staging, and lighting add a playful energy that immerses the audience in a fun exploration of questions and answers.  The play is short, but that keeps the show grounded in reality; every moment is meaningful and makes this show easily worth the price of admission.  Fresh Ink Theatre has a bright future in store for them as long as they continue to bring inspired, original productions to the stage.

 

 

 

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