It’s not so much that it’s beyond awful, which it is. It’s not so much that you should never consider subjecting yourself to it, which you shouldn’t.
Mostly, it’s that “One-Act Science Comedic Showcase” should never have been allowed to go up in the first place. Also, it’s a complete embarrassment that Explora is even asking people to pay money to see it.
Explora received some 200-odd submissions of science-related one-act plays. Eight were selected. If these were the best, I can barely imagine the other 192.
I’m really not sure whom to blame; probably not the actors, despite being dreadful. That’s what directors are for, but there’s only so much that turds can be polished. This is mostly the fault of the atrocious writing.
But the ultimate responsibility was with whoever directly had the power to watch the final rehearsal before opening night and say, “No. The public will never see this. It will never see the light of day.”
That would have been brave, and it would have been right. But instead, we have this.
It feels almost disingenuous to go into the details of the production’s painful failures when I feel they’re all at a certain point irrelevant and the whole of it should be taken out back and shot.
The production started late, and the first half was dull, inane and uncomfortably terrible, though not categorically offensive.
But then, everything changed. A monstrosity lumbered into existence, known only by the name, “Demoting Pluto” by Dwayne Yancey, and directed by Bradd Howard.
And I couldn’t take it.
How much can you beat a dead horse? You won’t know until you’ve seen the true embodiment of it.
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There really was only one joke: smear the-no-longer-considered-a-planet Pluto in the manner of a sleazy political campaign. Then do it again and again. And then, probably, again. Have the actors stand behind a big cheap cut-out of a television screen to make these “jokes.” Do it some more. Never let it stop. Keep on doing it. That’s the way.
Then allow the audience plenty of time to carefully consider different methods of self-harm.
The number-one problem with every individual one-act is that they’re way, WAY too long. Since these are original works, I wonder what authority those in charge of the production had to edit. And not just a line here or there that didn’t seem to be written by someone who understood English :
without any sense of exaggeration, I can fairly and conservatively say that each one-act I saw could have and should have been easily 50 percent the length. Jokes, such as they were, were repeated and rehashed in different forms in a rather woeful attempt at what I think was meant to be “humor.”
There was simply not enough material here to support eight entire one-acts, especially ones that seem to drag on and on into the heat death of the universe.
If such a travesty as “One-Act Science Comedic Showcase” was absolutely unavoidable, then there at least could have been mitigation to lessen the overall slap in the face to suffering audiences. If a 10-minute one-act feels like it’s 20, cut it to five. Cut the number of one-acts presented. Limit the suffering of future generations.
So, yeah. Don’t go see it. Even if it was completely free, as it should be. Or if you were paid to see it. Though even then, the prospect is skeptical.
But frankly, Explora should be utterly ashamed that they allowed this to happen.
Graham Gentz is a theater and film reviewer for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.