2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen)’

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The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen) delivers a riotous parody of classic science fiction and pop culture. Hilarious, and a must-see for anyone who considers themselves fans of either genres.

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Director Sara Bickler makes her Fringe return following a Best Drama nod for 2014’s R+J: Star Cross’d Deathmatch. Bickler serves as Managing Director at Grain of Sand Theatre, which received two consecutive Audience Choice Awards for 2012’s Hamlet: Reframed and 2013’s Tell Tale.

Bickler is joined by Assistant Director Carl Brandt Long, who directed Hamlet, and Playwright Pamela Leahigh, who co-starred with Bickler in Hamlet and Tell Tale.  In a departure from those dramas the three of them have crafted a smart caricature of classic sci-fi shows while cleverly weaving in current genre favorites. Lehigh is no stranger to using television as inspiration, having written and directed her first show for Fringe in 2010, Things I Wrote before My First Kiss, which also centered on classic TV.

In a fun coincidence, TGSFS(NOES)’s Paolo Santayana was also in that 2010 production. As comics store owner Ty, he’s sarcastic but lovable and has some good exchanges with Julie, played by Jennifer Barry. Barry provides a voice to “girl-nerds” everywhere and her opening riff on the levels of sexism inside the culture make me want to stand up and shout “PREACH, girl!”

Julie’s search for an obscure TV show leads her to an afternoon of binge-watching with Ty. As they argue over the trials and tribulations of “Live from Cauldron 5,” they risk getting sucked into an adventure pulled straight from the books Ty sells.

While there are some technical issues with the back-and-forth between Ty and Julie and the show-within-a-show, the cast of Cauldron 5 is hilarious: Aubri O’Connor is a girl-crush-hero and “Janeway-esque” as President Sandra Lorry. Her chemistry with Beth Armann as HG and Stephanie Svec as Jenkins is great, the scenes with just the three of them are some of the best in the script. Christopher Herring skillfully pops in as both Snarkus and Charles, two pivotal roles that provide a nice shake up to the action.

As the President’s lover Lance Hardwick, Christopher C. Holbert must have taken a master class in “Captain Kirk.” Returning to GSF and Fringe after appearing in Hamlet, he has everyone rolling every time he’s on stage, sometimes with just a look. It’s Holbert and O’Connor, plus Fringe new-comer Luke Morris, who are standout members of the cast.

Morris especially has a tough role as Flores, in a way he’s playing multiple characters – at times having to change emotions so quickly it’s mind-boggling how he keeps everything straight. Sometimes he’s literally leaping across the stage and yet he never once seems out of breath.

He and the rest of the cast create a fun night for everyone in the audience; TGSFS(NOES) is a must-see Fringe offering for any nerd or pop culture addict like this reviewer, or anyone who loves one and has sat through multiple episodes of Firefly and several incarnations of Star Trek.

Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

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The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen) is playing through July 22, 2016, at Logan Fringe Arts Space: Upstairs – 1358 Florida Avenue, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

LINKS:
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

Read the preview article of  ‘The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen)’ by Pamela Leahigh.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF-STARS10.gif BEST OF THE CAPITAL FRINGE!

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