Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: Robot Teammate's TURBULENCE! Covers Fun-Loving Comic Territory

L-R: Chris Bramante, Molly Dworsky, Miles Crosman, and Kat Primeau
Photo credit: Mary Bonney

Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” They are simple words but carry a profound message about how we experience the world. Applied to theatre, it is a concept that reveals why some companies are successful and others struggle. To understand what kind of art you’re making and who the audience is for it, is everything.

For example, Coeurage Theatre Company owns a unique niche presenting adventurous new works under a Pay What You Want banner. Antaeus is a theatre co-op that produces classical works with seasoned artists and employs partner casting for its productions. 3-D Theatricals is known for large scale Broadway-caliber musicals, and 24th Street Theatre creates inclusive world-class family entertainment that both educates and stimulates dialogue among a diverse community. All of them know who they are.

Also in this group of self-aware artists is Robot Teammate, producers of Turbulence!, a new 55-minute musical playing through June 22 at Sacred Fools Theatre. At its heart, they are a musical improv group specializing in heightened comedy, often with a sci-fi or fantasy twist. They include their audience throughout the entire process of developing a new work and one thing you can be sure of is that an RT show will be fun.

Consequently, getting butts in seats isn’t a problem. Translation: If you don’t have tickets for their current run yet, get them now or prepare to be disappointed when they sell out. Consider it a $15 fun tax; it’s money well-spent.

The crowd on Saturday saw the first full performance of Turbulence!, their latest space fluff adventure about a wackadoo crew aboard the S.S. Albacore, commissioned to be Earth’s last minute replacement in the annual race around the Sun. Likable but hilariously unprepared, this bunch of misfits must find a way to overcome their own oddball eccentricities and learn to work together as a team in order to best their rivals.

Set to an upbeat ‘80s-style pop rock score, Turbulence! is a screwball mash-up of Friday night SyFy comedy classics and Saturday morning cartoons with colorful characters and bright, energetic choreography. Two musical departures – a hokey country “Hoedown Throwdown” style number (priceless) and a beautiful a cappella choral piece add variety. The friendly rough-and-tumble nature of the work is a good fit for those looking for an escape from the more cynical/slit-your-wrists drama one often finds at the Fringe. This is comical territory, bold and fun-loving. It won’t tax any brain cells (on purpose) but the rowdy good time it delivers is all you need.

The only issue they need to rectify is the audio. While the acting is crisp, the sound over the mics is hooty and hollow with frequent feedback. A voiceover sets up the story but you can’t understand it over the band, partly because the balance is off and partly because of the garbled character choice. Once that's handled, this outer space adventure will be firing on all cylinders.

Cast: Miles Crosman (Capt. Davin Galaxy), Kat Primeau (Dr. Joules Johnson), Chris Bramante (Mick Cribbins), Dave Reynolds (Mambo 4), Molly Dworsky (Pattern MaGerk), Sam Johnides (Zorks), Branson NeJame (Malarkis/Announcer). Directed by Molly Dworsky, co-directed by Dave Reynolds. Choreography by Kat Primeau. Book & lycics by Miles Crosman & Robot Teammate. Music composed, arranged & directed by Sam Johnides with additional composition by Branson NeJame.

June 10 – 22, 2017
Sacred Fools Theater
1076 Lillian Way
Hollywood, CA 90038

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