On Friday, September 21, the audience at McCain Auditorium was treated to a different kind of performance.
“The Intergalactic Nemesis” is part pulp comic book and part radio play. On the stage a large screen hosted images from the graphic novel timed for dramatic effect or to allow for comedic image recycling and pauses. In the orchestra, the performers were arranged together, like they would be in a radio studio, flanked by an engineer and a Foley artist as well as a pianist to provide the background music.
At McCain, the performers presented the first of the trilogy that makes up “The Intergalactic Nemesis” entitled “Target Earth.” All characters in the piece were played by three actors using extreme accents and stereotypical speech patterns that well matched the pulp setting circa 1933.
In “Target Earth,” Molly Sloan, heiress and Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, and her assistant Timmy are trying to find the source of an illegal fur trade when they are attacked by an unknown assassin after their contact describes some kind of monster that has scared off the trappers. Their contact dead, they are rescued by a stranger that seems to know where they will be in the future.
The stranger appears again in Scotland and rescues the pair from the mechinations of Mysterion, a mentalist that intends to take over the world with his mind control powers. After disabling Mysterion’s machine and rescuing Molly and Timmy, the stranger introduces himself as Ben Wolcott, a librarian fighting alien forces bent on world domination. Initially skeptical of Ben’s story, Molly checks his background and finds that there is no record of Ben as a librarian at Flagstaff’s library.
The three make their way to Tunis where they meet with a contact of Molly’s that leads them, for a price, to the network of tunnels underneath the city where eggs holding a brood of Zygonians are waiting to hatch. Initially trapped by Mysterion, the trio are rescued and destroy the brood, only to be captured by a spaceship piloted by a hologram.
Now recruited by the denizens of the robot planet to save two galaxies from the Zygonian menace. The robot leader has predicted that the three of them will be able to defeat the Zygonians and have put into place the necessary item to ensure that Ben would travel back in time with the hope of destroying the Zygonians before they could dominate Earth. He will also bring Timmy to the robot planet so the robots can train his mind to fight the Zygonians on their home world and destroy their queen because the robots are not able to commit violence directly.
“The Intergalactic Nemesis” is convincing as a pulp comic with improbable events leading to impossible discoveries and everyday people become galaxy-saving heroes. All the while, quaint simplifications of science and technology give rise to amusing logical leaps typical of comic books and science fiction dime novels. The crew does a good job of instilling a sense of levity throughout their performance.
During the performance, I found myself splitting time looking from the screen to the Foley artist to the performers as they used different voice changing effects and expressions to help differentiate their characters. Watching their physical contortions as they adopted the various roles and voices was a big part of the show.
“The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth” was an engrossing and entertaining production. My son, who is known to fall asleep if kept up much after his bed time, stayed riveted to the performance and wide awake throughout. When it was finally over, he asked if we could see the next one too. I have to hope that McCain is able to schedule book two: “The Intergalactic Nemesis: Robot Planet Rising.”