Dwight/Edgewood Project

Love is a many-creatured thing

Strange Love in Outer Space, the final show by the Yale Cabaret this semester (two shows tonight; three on Sat, including an early show for kids), was written by Janyia Antrum, a twelve-year-old student who participated in the Dwight/Edgewood Project last summer.  The program gives local 6th and 7th graders from Augusta Lewis Troup and Wexler-Grant Community Schools an opportunity to work with Yale School of Drama theater people. Janyia was mentored by Brian Valencia, a dramaturg. The one-act that Janyia wrote in two days at the D/EP’s weekend retreat got a second act after she went home and dreamed about the characters’ further adventures.  The Yale Cab commissioned a third act to find out where the characters were going, and the full trilogy, produced by Jorge Rodriguez and directed by Christopher Mirto, has now had its debut.

What kind of characters?  The main figure is Splontusia (Alex Hendrikson), a four-eyed, one-armed creature who gets transformed into being mean and evil by an injection from the mean and evil Dr. Roswald Tuscanium (Dr. T, for short; Valencia), a worm-like creature with a slit for eyes, truncated arms, and a long trailing body.  By end of act one, however, these two would-be antagonists have admitted that, yes, there’s something charming about that slit and something bewitching about the gleam in that fourth eye...

Romantic complications ensue with the addition, in act two, of Grumis (Mirto), an aquatic creature with a rather dim-witted if likeable delivery who has always loved Splontusia, and, in act three, of the outrageously named Bonegettagettaquisha Star Jones (Dipika Guha), a pirate woman who happens to be part dog, and who has kinda had a crush on Dr T ever since science class back in high school.

And, yes, there are songs.  In fact, be prepared to get on your feet for the rousing “the way love moves in outer space” finale.

I don’t know if Janyia has ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I assume that her cast and mentors have, and they maintain a similiar level of zany engagement and campy silliness that made that film such a hit.  Dr T laughs diabolically and snivels pathetically; Grumis sings like an insecure kid on Sesame Street and then belts out his beloved’s name, “Splon-tuuu-syaaaaa,” like Stanley Kowalski with fins (and how he does those fish-hops I’ll never know).  And once Splontusia starts vacillating (Dr. T did chain her to a toilet, after all), B.S. J. arrives as a possible new match for Dr T; she growls and howls yet still manages to exude the charm of a funky Puss In Boots; and Splontusia herself, all in white, at a regal height, towering above the rest of the cast, veers in a mercurial manner from ditzy to heart-felt to aggressive to, finally, someone ready to be her own person.

See it to support young talent!  See it to meet creatures you won’t find anywhere else!  See it for the toilet bowl song!

Strange Love in Outer Space What does it take to make a relationship work? by Janyia Antrum (2009 Dwight/Edgewood Playwright) Directed by Christopher Mirto December 4 @ 8 and 11PM December 5 @ 4, 8 and 11PM Love just got a whole lot stranger. A trilogy of plays begun in the Dwight/Edgewood Project.