Presented by Improv Boston
Hosted by Dave Marino
Review by Kitty Drexel
Apologies to the Red Alert stage and ship crews. This review is late because of reasons and for that I am deeply sorry.
(Cambridge, MA) Improv Boston dishes up yet another nerd-licious treat with Red Alert. It follows in the footsteps of such notable shows as ‘My Dark Love: An Improvised Teen Gothic Romance,’ ‘Magic The Gathering: The Improv Show’ or the late, dearly beloved ‘Geek Week.’ It hits that trekkie sweet spot that other science fiction homages miss. It is hosted by Dave Marino who also guest stars as an alien lifeform and slurpy sound effect guy.
For those who haven’t followed the many iterations of Star Trek (not including Enterprise because that show is a steaming pile of Bush-era butt crud), each week Gene Roddenberry would introduce a new species or catastrophe for the Captain and crew of each spaceship to hash out while following (or not) the Prime Directive. It’s a good time if you can ignore the obvious plot holes and inconsistencies… Which takes us back to Red Alert.
The cast plays the crew of the starship Caliburn. Their intrepid commander Daniel Booker guides them through epic tantrums, romantic and identity confusion, alien introduction, and adventures of all kinds as they navigate this experience we call life. Seriously, Booker is the only adult on board. The crew members might as well be overgrown toddlers in need of a nap and a binky. They are a mess and it’s a wonder that the ship hasn’t crash landed yet. Caliburn? More like Caliban. This show was funnier than watching Enterprise try to be relatable, watchable or likable (It’s hilarious).
There is a red button placed near the audience to slap anytime someone wants to see the crew makeup and then solve an emergency of the ship. In the show on Friday, Jan. 23, these emergencies crossed the spectrum from the Ship becoming pregnant to the Science Officer sitting in Booker’s chair.
Part of the performance was watching the cast grow accustomed the the audience’s button slapping rhythm*. The special lighting and sound effects are controlled by the lighting booth. This means that there’s not only the improv and cues to worry about but also just how dickish the audience wants to be. Everyone has to be on their toes. The audience was comprised of tipsy, slap-happy dicks*. We were the chimps in Kubrik’s 2001. The novelty of the button never wore off. It was awesome watching the booth dude and cast keep up.
Lest one think that this show is only enjoyable to science geeks, please understand that the emphasis of the performance is placed on the awkward relationships between our socially awkward crew members. For example, science and technology aspects play second fiddle to the Systems Officer’s inability to flirt with the Weapons Officer. Just about everyone can relate to missing romantic signals in the work place. The fact that they work on a spaceship in the alpha-quadrant, say, is secondary.
If you don’t like pseudo-nerd speak, simple plastic props, or Star Trek this show might not be for you. If you like all of this plus guffaw-inducing improv, this is the show for you. It’s a little like this delightful sketch from Robot Chicken.