March 19, 2017

Otherworld Theatre's A PRINCESS OF MARS - Review

(Special thanks to Otherworld Theater for providing a complimentary ticket for review purposes).

Right now, many people feel the need to escape, to lose themselves in another world. With an impending move and maternal health issues, I was desperately needing to mainline some straightforward pulp thrills.....

....and Otherworld Theatre's production of A Princess of Mars fits the bill precisely. With creative staging, atmospheric lighting, and a smart script, this is one theatrical production you don't want to miss.

Adapted by Nick Izzo and Tiffany Kean Schaefer from the pulp-era Edgar Rice Burroughs novel,  Otherworld Theatre's A Princess Of Mars deftly manages to balance many plot threads, integrating some of the best aspects of the novel while integrating some more contemporary concerns. This is a play that has it all: action, romance, and a smart message that lifts the material. Think of it as the exact opposite of John Carter, choosing to emphasize character and circumstance over special effects.

(And let's be clear - I liked John Carter).

With minimal staging and a high level of atmospherics and costuming, A Princess of Mars manages to drive home several themes: the need for a personal mission, the drawback of being a "chosen one", and the need to act towards the greater good.

It's also incredibly fun, with very well-staged fight scenes. (And a bit of a trigger warning: even though I knew that most of the action was being blocked, it still felt real at times. This isn't a complaint - it's a compliment. Because this is being done by an all-volunteer troupe, and that's definitely worth kudos).

Plus, the cast really makes this a great experience. Elliott Sowards' John Carter isn't the traditional action-hero of many of my contemporaries, but a man truly out of step and thrust into a very unusual world. (And I'm late to the John Carter bandwagon, only having read A Princess of Mars five years ago). Mary-Kate Arnold crafts a very real Dejah Thoris driven by scientific curiosity and a deep passion for her home world.  With a large cast (including Bennett Decker Bottero, Elizabeth MacDougald, Tim Larson, Michael Bullaro, Nathan R. Miller, Julia Rigby and Shaun Hayden) that has some members playing multiple roles, Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars really hits home in many ways, and is a great example of small, local theater done right.

With a greater emphasis on pulp-era literature and characters being developed for the big screen, it's really pleasurable to see smaller, more intimate takes on the material. One of the joys of Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars is how it takes an early 20th century work and gives it a contemporary immediacy.

Simply put, go see Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars. It's being run for a limited time, and you'll fall in love with this production.

No comments: