The space between
A smart, rockin’, sexy journey to the weirdness inside
It was just another Sunday night at the Chico Women’s Club, filled with cosmic, trippy atmospheric rock; sexy dancing angels in fringed brassieres and cheek-baring shorts; and a daydreaming, musing, Willy Loman-esque (though slightly more likeable) protagonist in the latest creation from the Uncle Dad’s Art Collective.
Directed and choreographed by Eva Blanshei, Everybody in Outer Space: Lost Their Marbles is a play/concert/dance showcase hybrid of sorts, and is the 10th original live event (and fifth stage production) presented in the last nine months by the company made up of local artists, musicians, actors and engineers.
Set in London, the story by local musician/actor Ben Ruttenburg follows the character of Thomas Livingston (portrayed by Chad Lewis), just a mundane aristocratic “codfish” living a mundane existence with a mundane wife, mundane friends and a mundane job. And Livingston is OK with that, he tells the audience in his opening monologue, though one suspects he’s always been a daydreamer who longed for something more.
And that something more arrives in the form of Queen Dream (Kelsi Fossum-Trausch) and her four leggy angels with flirtatious eyes and alluring dance moves as Livingston is walking home from work one rainy evening.
The dancers in the production were as technically skilled as they were sexy and quirky (or sexky, if you will). In some hallucinations, they kick like can-can dancers or boogie like disco queens—big, genuine smiles on their faces. In others, however, they contort their torsos, flail their arms and gaze with intense eyes and placid faces.
The in-house band—featuring the talents of various members of Bogg and the Pageant Dads, including Joshua Hegg, Michael Bone, Alex Coffin and Gavin Fitzgerald (the production’s music director and bassist)—set the soundtrack for the show and grooved with foot-stompin’ rock beats, bluesy riffs and energized guitar solos. Fitzgerald’s brilliant direction partners the music’s tone and pace to that of the story, ethereal and atmospheric at times and a spazzed-out, down-right rock fest at others.
While the show’s title, at first, seems to suggest alien rather than angelic appearances, the “outer” really represents the “other,” the realm between reality and dreams that houses the angels Livingston continues to see in his vivid hallucinations throughout the show, even after he is (spoiler alert) taken to the hospital when his wife finds him unconscious.
As the story progresses, however, the question becomes whether it’s really Livingston or the people surrounding him (like his comedic, “blah-blah”-ing boss, played by Joey Moshiri) who have lost their marbles. The “outer” people might just be those who are here on Earth, living a less-enlightened, less-meaningful (and less-deliciously scantily clad) existence.
But whether that’s an accurate interpretation or not, audience members will be drawn to the angels just as much as Livingston and empathize with his desire to escape his own life, in spite of (and hell, because of) the fact that everyone else insists he get it together and stop being so distracted.
The only flaw of the night for me was the ending, where the story’s focus shifts from Livingston to his wife, Caroline (Julia Rauter), whose character doesn’t seem to warrant the special attention she suddenly gets. It might have been more powerful to end one scene earlier, and leave things up to audience interpretation.
Overall, however, Ruttenburg’s script is engaging and interesting. He scatters witty and comedic moments throughout, such as Livingston’s musing on a day in the park with his wife: “I cherish these moments of simulated bliss.”
The bliss of the audience at Chico Women’s Club on Sunday night was far from simulated. By the end, there were loud whoops, standing ovations and lingering to listen to the last few chords of the band’s closing song, making this a must-see for those looking for a thought-provoking story with fantastic, rockin’ music and sexky dancing—all produced by locals.