10…9…8…strap yourselves in for a blast off into space as you travel along with the Global Interplanetary Space Corps. Captain Blappten and First Mate Kate are recruiting new members to join their mission to discover the solar system. Presented at The Capital Fringe Festival by Kaleidoscope Theatre Company, this hybrid performance of educational interactive fun brings space to children of all ages.
The production itself looks like it belongs in the Smithsonian or other science-type museum, feeling like a “fun-with-learning” exhibit that should be situated just outside of Air&Space. Hokey props and a make-shift control panel for the spaceship are reminiscent of educational entertainment from middle school science classes. The models the crew uses for displaying the planets are relatively impressive, however, with earth being a 2in wide painted ping pong ball and Jupiter being an enormous rubber beach ball. (Though Saturn for some strange reason is the exact same size as Jupiter, only with rings.)
The performance is geared toward children of a younger age group, personally I would say any child over the age of 11 will find the performance to be a bit corny and cheesy as both performers focus their efforts on engaging the younger children. The pacing of the production is off and slightly unbalanced. By the time the space explorers reach Jupiter it’s a very brief blip in the trip compared to the time lamenting the loss of Pluto to the solar system’s planter alignment. The script needs polishing as well as Captain Blappten (Bethany Michel) goes from long-winded complex scientific explanations of things like orbit and gravity to suddenly truncated and simplistic ones, like when talking about the spot on Neptune.
Both Michel and First Mate Kate (Kathleen Mason) are good with the children who frequently get pulled up onto the stage to ‘assist’ with missions. Mason shows a superior skill when interacting with children and knowing exactly how to respond to some of the off the wall and unpredictable things young children say. Mason is also the ‘fun’ character in the breakdown of “Good astronaut/bad astronaut.” And while Michel isn’t the “bad guy” she certainly is stiff and boring (as a good captain ought to be) an intentional choice to make her character stand out more.
Mason is a bouncing ball of energy, goofy and giddy, giggling and being silly throughout the production and she garners the attention of the children really well. As First Mate Kate, Mason gets to explore space and does so— complete with her own sound effects— taking the more visual and simple approach to educating the audience.
Think crash-course in space 101 for children and that will sum up the show, though the pictures they use on their big picture screen are of an impressive quality. Perfect for younger children who are ready to blast off and have never before had any real concept of the planets and space introduced to them.
Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Kids in Space’ by Matt Fox.