Review by Travis Manni
(Chelsea, MA) Every theatre geek knows that good theatre should ask questions and initiate a conversation. It should do something as small as make the audience think of something from a different perspective or as large as make you question everything. These were the expectations I had when sitting down to watch Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production of Brilliant Adventures.
In the sci-fi drama Brilliant Adventures, Luke (Sam Terry & Eric McGowan), a 19-year-old smart and skittish nerd type who decided not to go to uni, struggles with a stutter and lives in a flat in Middlesbrough, England by himself while childhood muck-up friend Greg (Geoff Van Wyck) harasses him to let him crash at his apartment. Luke’s older brother Rob (Michael Underhill) works as a drug dealer to keep the family financially supported and his dealer Ben (Brooks Reeves) comes by to stir the pot. He takes special interest in a giant box sitting in Luke’s living room, which happens to be a time machine. Despite Ben’s large offer for the device, Luke refuses to sell it, or use it for that matter, which pushes Ben to extremes to own the machine at any cost.
Every aspect of this show was operating at full-throttle. Actors nailed their accents so well, thanks to Dialect Coach Christopher Sherwood Davis, I was sure they’d all grown up in the U.K. David Reiffel’s sound design in the show was cohesive and pleasant; I found myself enjoying the segues in between scenes so much that I wanted to pick up a soundtrack from the show on my way out. Electronic pop and spatial chords synced well with the sci-fi elements of the show. Nathan Lee’s set was cozy and realistic, an ideal and spacious flat, yet with an empty coming-of-age awareness.
So with all these elements, with every single artistic cog cranked up to 100 and working cohesively, as I was leaving the theatre I was confused and disappointed, wondering why it just wasn’t sinking in. And eventually, I realized the play itself is problematic.
While the script for Brilliant Adventures is tight, the show itself is both derivative and not compelling. There have been plenty of stories about families torn apart by drugs. Adding a time machine didn’t create anything new about this narrative. The time machine was a device, literally and figuratively, to move the plot forward. Also, it didn’t appear that the title Brilliant Adventures was intended to be ironic, but the entire show took place in one room. Another complaint I have for the show: there are no women. Zero. That said, I do want to acknowledge that the production staff was mostly comprised of women, and that was fantastic to see.
Apollinaire Theatre Company truly pulls out all the stops for its production of Brilliant Adventures, and I suggest you see it if you have the time. However, appreciation for the craft of theatre is a must because the show itself isn’t creative enough to engage the audience or force them to ask questions. You kind of just take the story for what it is.
Brilliant Adventures runs for 2 hours with one intermission. To purchase tickets, click here.
We have elected a tangerine ass-bugle bigot with scrawny hands, thin skin, and terrible hair to the office of the President. The theatre community has every reason to be scared that the national budget for the arts will be slashed. It will be. Certain republicans tend to disrespect experimental, avant-garde, or simply new art. If it challenges the white, straight, hetero status quo, they tend to be against it. New things frighten them with their difference. Belts will need to be tightened. For the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating your art despite this painful bullshit. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. Please keep fighting the good fight. – KD
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