Cast, cornball make 'Star Trek' Parody work

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Summer Wildcat

In space, no one can hear you roll your eyes.

Or laugh, for that matter, two things the Gaslight Theatre's bright new production, "Space Trek: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" guarantees for its audience.

The theatre's new melodrama offers up David Fanning as Captain James P. Trek, the romantic hero of the Starship Entrepreneur, as well as another Gaslight favorite, Tim Gilbert, as Dr. Leonard McCrea, the ship's physician.

Characters don't really matter, however, in the Gaslight's patented blend of hyper melodrama. The selling points here are the jokes ─ we're talking groaners here ─ which come by fast and often, never failing to amuse the Gaslight's ready audience.

And there's plenty of material for these connoisseurs of cornball to choose from in their parody of the campy space show "Star Trek." The jokes poke fun at the obvious ─there's plenty of "I'm a doctor, not a (fill in the blank)" stuff from Dr. McCrea and more than an occasional "I find that highly illogical" unemotive statement from First Officer Mr. Smock─ to the not as readily obvious ─the introduction of new characters for the sole purpose of offing them, for instance ─ to the ... well, you don't have to be a hardcore Trekkie to get the jokes here. It's all pretty obvious.

The play satisfies all melodramatic expectations as well, with cheerable heroes, booable villains, cheap 'n' cheesy special effects, and a lot of audience interaction and improvisation.

In fact, the performance that I caught's funniest moments came in the first scene of the second act, when the play nearly derailed itself due to a series of flubbed and forgotten lines. The highly charismatic (and perpetual audience favorite) Gilbert never lost a beat, however, turning the faux pas into an ad lib comedy routine that soon had the audience (and his fellow stage players) doubled up in laughter.

The play has more than its fair share of comedic misfires, however, and a failed subplot about a mad-scientist-cum-geek type who transforms himself into a leading man a la, um, Buddy Holly. But the spirit and energy of the performers is able to rise above the plays faults however, bringing "Space Trek" to an uproarious conclusion.

The performance is followed by the "Gilligan's Island"-inspired olio acts titled "The Castaways." A combination of Tin Pan Alley standards, energetic dance numbers and even worse jokes (I mean that in the best way possible), the olio is a good comedown from a ribald evening of entertainment.

The Gaslight Theatre presents "Space Trek: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" through August 19. Student ticket prices are available. Call 886-9428.

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