Hip Shot: Fireball XL
Friday, July 19, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 21, 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, July 27, noon
They Say: "A futuristic romp aboard Starship Fireball XL. Our spandex-clad female crew hurtles through space in search of the Tribe of Lost Boys. Their mission – to save humanity. But will they survive invisible ninjas, pint-sized pirates and Chekhov performed by aliens?"
Brett's Take: Fringe is an excellent place for Lumina Studio Theatre. The long-running company is primarily a teaching theatre, a chance for young actors – LOTS of them – to perform in bona fide plays often tailored, in-house, to their skills. Fringe allows the company to cut loose in front of broad audiences who, being at Fringe, are presumably open to something like Fireball XL: a bright, goofy hour of Star Trek parody and over-the-top performances.
The plot, made to order by company director David Minton, concerns the crew of the Fireball XL (pronounced with a random sound effect on the end, such a ptooie noise or a honk) and their quest to save humanity by finding the distant planet of the Lost Boys. You see, in this future, there are only women left on Earth, and they have ceased to be able to form new "focus groups" in order to perpetuate the race. (The show makes a joke even out of its own family-friendly chasteness.)
In her quest, heroic Captain Buck Priscilla "Prissy" Thorn (Clare Lefebure) must contend with visits from Shakespearean aliens, an escaped prisoner who keeps hurting the feelings of her crew, and, worst of all, the annoying attempts of Art Enhancement Director Tiffany (Mia Massimino) to enrich everyone's minds with her latest dramatic presentation. There's also a mysterious warning of a traitor amongst the crew; just the tiniest bit of real suspense to keep the audience guessing.
This is pepperoni pizza theatre, not an ounce of serious nutrition to be found, and thank goodness. Every young actor throws themselves into their familiar stereotypes (the android who just wants to love, the neurotic mousy girl, the long-suffering Spock caricature) with infectious aplomb; Lefebure particularly does a pro's job of anchoring the proceedings without surrendering one shred of her Captain Kirk knockoff's hilarious, emphatic energy. The jokes—which range from dumb to cleverly dumb—come at warp speed. And Jeff Streuwing's props, Wendy Eck's costumes, and Jim Porter's set are just handsome enough for the wacky atmosphere. Fireball XL is a small slice of anarchy (well-rehearsed anarchy, thanks to director Richie Porter), with too much ADD to even really focus on parodying Star Trek, but it's never anything less—or anything more—than cute and fun.
See it if: You strongly prefer to watch shows that the performers love performing.
Skip it if: You would rather do anything than attend a high school play, even if your kid was in it.