Sporting an all-male cast of seven, one might assume that this is a “little play about science.” That would be a grossly inaccurate assumption. Brevoort’s play is a great big show not only in its scope of ideas but in its broad production values. There is as much comedy as there is historically accurate information hitherto unknown to John Q. Public. There’s lightning, thunder, interstellar screen projections, music, choreography and confetti. But beneath all the hoopla is the very real premise that engineers use intuition and inspiration as much as they do scientific facts and that science uses as much creativity and imagination as it does hard numbers. What makes this play particularly appealing to an audience is the thoroughly fleshed out characters who we watch take part in one of the greatest collaborative undertakings in our recent history.
Suffice it to say, that there is not a weak link in this cast. Andrew Mueller as Jed Berman, the lead engineer of the NASA team, dynamically portrays a hyperkinetic, brainiac who likes to think outside the box -- hence the term, blue skying. Etai Benson is extremely funny as the mathematical prodigy, Vencel von Volp, an engineer who prefers to do figures in his head rather than use an adding machine. Shane David embodies the duck hunting, flannel shirt wearing rocket engineer, C.J. Caldwell, who gets his inspiration for rocket designs from his Buck Rogers comic books. Joseph Kolinski, who plays Howard Haggerty, the MIT scientist and apoplectic villain for most of the piece, sputters and spews threatening ultimatums in trying to keep the aforesaid rag tag engineering team on track and organized. As Haggerty, Mr. Kolinski has the biggest character arc in the play, as he eventually comes to believe in the team’s blue sky methods for solving big problems. And it is quite satisfying to see his transformation from a bellicose skeptic to an awe inspired humanist, a testament to Kolinski’s depth as an actor. Michael Goldstein is charming as Apollo, Icarus, Louis Leakey and Snoopy – and he plays the ukulele! Orville Mendoza is amusing as both Galileo and The Red Baron. And Tom Templeton goes from camp as Buck Rogers to mundane as scientist, Charles Townes.
The set remains mostly the same though we start in Landis, Virginia and end up in Houston, Texas. It is three desks in various stages of disarray, behind which looms a wall of oversized computer components and hanging wires. Of particular mention should be the sound design by David Thomas for which there must be a million cues.
You don’t have to particularly like science to enjoy this play – because it’s a little like Bill Nye the Science Guy on L.S.D. It’s a lot of fun and you actually may learn something. As for those of you who actually have bought into the urban myth that we never really did go to the moon – I say – just get off the dark web, will you please? For tickets call Tickets by Proctors: 518-445-SHOW (7469) or visit www.capitalrep.org.
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