REVIEW: Space Mystery from Outer Space @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

Space Mystery from Outer Space is a giant blending of pulp 50s stylings, told in true over the top fashion.

Sylvie Recoskie and Tom Charlebois tell you why you should see it:

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If you travel back in time to the 50s, take your pulp noir stories, B monster movies, and rocketship fiction, throw them all in a magic-blender, and dump the contents on stage - you’ll have Space Mystery from Outer Space. It’s a story that sees a noir detective hired by a femme fatale to find her uncle that has disappeared off the face of the planet (and who turns out to be a mad scientist), leaving the detective and the dame to hitch a ride on the only space dirigible (yes, dirigible, go with it)  around to find out what happened. And this show is completely, fantastically, over the top in all the right ways.

The script does an incredible job capturing the nuances and characterization of the genres it’s emulating and the entire cast is so pitch-perfect in their roles that it’s hard to believe. To the point where the detective repeatedly admits not having any clue what a laser is when other characters mention it. The only character that feels a bit out of place is lab assistant Bunson who, while you can’t help but love him, doesn’t remotely feel like a 50s throwback.

And while your enjoyment of Space Mystery will definitely depend on your love of campy 50s pulp fun, one thing that isn’t open for debate is the intricate awesomeness and attention to detail that went into this show. The costumes from noir detective to spaceshi- er, space-dirigble uniforms to the femme fatales’ dresses, are all completely genre-appropriate. They’ve got the front end of a car set piece that doubles as space-dirigible control console, they’ve got a man-eating lizard (who, yes, lives up to his name), and a giant tentacle monster. And those are just the big details. What’s even better is some of the little details. The giant tentacle monster is generally only seen as giant tentacles (with embedded lasers) on stage but for a brief moment comes to drag a body away and you see that they’ve gone to the effort of building a full costume for that one moment. Dead Unicorn Ink also took the time to not only costume their almost-on-stage musicians (yes, live original music), but to do full classic sci-fi alien make-up for one of their musicians who comes on stage to sing two numbers.

Even if you’re not into pulp campy fun, Space Mystery is worth the time just to see how much production value a dedicated, talented company can pack into a Fringe show. It’s a true spectacle, a lot of fun, and a five.

Kurt’s Followup:

The entire play harkens back to the days of early science fiction, and draws on them for inspiration and comedy. What the show really gets right is all the little things. The play boasts one of the biggest technical aspects and spectacles of the festival. It’s actually impressive how much they can bring in to the show and so well. And it makes great use of set and props, including a miniature space ship model that the audience got a real kick out of. They also include a giant lizard head and the tentacles of a giant octopus. This is also one of the few shows to use live music, which is well done too, chiming in whenever something exciting or surprising happens. The show is also complemented by strong performances, with even minor characters making strong and lasting impressions, such as the boisterous Captain Hammerfist and even the on-board computer. The show may be silly but is still has good character arcs for the characters, and a well written script.

The show is a silly and light hearted one with a great sense of humour and some incredibly great design elements to it. If you love science fiction or spectacle, you will enjoy it, and so it earns a four.

- by Kurt Shantz

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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