Monday, November 21, 2016

Review of Theater Unspeakable's Moon Shot: A Race to Space at Chicago Children's Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Moon Shot: A Race to Space. It was devised by Theater Unspeakable and directed by Marc Frost. It was about the United States and the Soviet Union's battle to get to space first. I generally love Theater Unspeakable. They do a lot of great and intriguing work. They do most of their performances on a tiny platform and there are no props and they use their bodies and mime for props. I thought this was a really exciting idea for a show, but I think they tried to pack a lot of plot points into a short time, so at times it was hard to understand. I still enjoyed the movement of the piece and thought it was a fun show.

Theater Unspeakable uses a platform for everything that happens. In this show, actors did step off the platform for some of it. I really like the movement in all of their shows. I think the reason why it has so much impact is because of how treacherous it is and also how much fun the actors (David Gordezky, Quenna Lené, Sarah Liken, Aaron Rustebakke, Rejinal Simon, Orion Lay-Sleeper, and Vanessa Valliere) are having making the play and doing the movements and portraying so many characters. It is fun to do something that is really challenging and they all seem to have a figuratively and literally close relationship because they are literally and figuratively standing on each others' shoulders. The performance style is not just fun to look at; it has meaning. It shows you that teamwork is really important; if someone literally or figuratively falls, your colleagues will pick you up again.

I really liked how people were not just characters or objects, but they also played space. They would lift up somebody who was supposed to be in space and carry them around the stage. They seemed to be floating, like they were actually in space. I thought that was really cool. I also really liked the character of Wernher Von Braun (Lay-Sleeper). He was the rocket scientist from Germany who worked for the Americans and he went on t.v. with Walt Disney and they put that in the show and I thought that was really cool. At first I thought that was made up, but it isn't. It is all true; you can watch it on YouTube. In the show, he seemed to be really uncomfortable on t.v. which I thought was very funny.

One of my favorite celebrity animals is Laika the dog and I am really glad that they put her in the story, even if it was just a brief cameo. I liked how they just presented her as a normal dog, and then you realize she is in a rocket ship. And then you get worried that the dog is going to die, and you should be. If you know the story of Laika, you know it doesn't go well. But she is still one of the first astronauts. I saw a show about Laika when I was six that I really enjoyed. I feel like the moment about Laika the dog might be obscure for people who didn't already know about sending dogs into space. I felt like the show didn't get to give you enough context or detail about what you were seeing in this scene and some others. But it was it was really fun if you did already know a lot about the race to space.

People who would like this show are people who like space dogs, tiny platforms, and awkward German rocket scientists. This is a fun show and I feel like it is an experience that no other theater will give to you. I'm sorry this review didn't come out sooner. I saw it halfway through the run and there weren't many performances, but I hope that you'll have another chance to see it when it is remounted.

Photos: Ben Gonzales

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