Hundred Year Space Trip, now playing at the Yale Cabaret for two more shows tonight, 8 and 11 p.m., is an amusing little fantasia about space travel, sorta; more accurately it’s about being at home somewhere (anywhere) in the universe. The show features—stage right—two “not astronauts,” Kate Attwell and Nina Segal, the originators of the piece (under their stage name webuygold), seated side-by-side, wearing orange space suits. Their charmingly laconic commentary is, we’re to imagine, the banter of two girls in space.
Meanwhile, back on earth, Ryan Davis rummages around stage left with transparancies on an overhead projector showing earth from space and other intergalactic images, and reads aloud in a now-hear-this radio spot voice letters the duo wrote to guys they were hoping to get sperm donations from: their plan, as enacted for us around a dining room table center stage rear by Brenda Meaney and partner, in the spritely “can-do” tones of liberated gals of another era, is to travel to far off Alpha Centauri and back; if they get pregnant at the right time on the voyage out, and their progeny get pregnant at the right time, then the duo’s grandchildren can complete the journey back to Earth (with a capital “e”).
The idea of an intergalactic journey in which our progeny’s progeny might achieve something their ancestors intend has a lot of resonance if you’ve ever contemplated the problem of handing anything very specific on, through time and space. The question of what is memorable, of what is worth handing on, is another theme that gets toyed with, as well as the potentially alienating experience of leaving the planet and returning. At one point, Davis, with a flashlight in the darkened theater, wearing headgear and speaking through a distorting bullhorn, reports on what he finds among the “creatures” looking on as he explores the space. This segment features the kind of audience interaction the Cab thrives on, a mix of improvised and scripted behavior and amusing asides.
In the end, the piece seems to flesh out only partially the routines of Attwell and Segal, which remain the most engaging part of the evening. Which is to say that the efforts to find ways to dramatize what is essentially a quirky, almost telepathic brand of interpersonal comedy only partially work as theater. The game participation of Davis, Meaney et al. notwithstanding, it’s the non sequiturs, word games, silences and subtle interactions between Atwell and Segal that finally get us “beyond” theater into a different space.
webuygold presents: HUNDRED YEAR SPACE TRIP 22-24 September, 2001
The Yale Cabaret 217 Park Street New Haven, CT