Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's Diamond Dogs

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Diamond Dogs. It was by Althos Low and it was based on Alastair Reynolds' Diamond Dogs. It was directed by Nathan Allen. It's about a man named Swift (my dad, John Henry Roberts) and his childhood friend Roland Childe (Chris Hainsworth). They were not normal childhood friends. They kind of tortured each other with different mazes and quests to go on. And now that they are grown up they are still doing all of the same things, just on a larger scale. Childe has found a new place on a different planet that he has named The Blood Spire and he is going to pay a lot of money to the people who go on the expedition to find out what is in The Blood Spire. The people who are going on the expedition include a crazy doctor named Trintignant (Joey Steakley) who has apparently performed surgery on himself because he was curious. The captain, Forqueray (Abu Ansari), owns the spaceship they are on. Hirz (Elana Elyce) is a badass, tech-savvy, hacker woman, and Celestine (Katherine Keberlein) is a mathematician, who is also Swift's ex-wife--not really the best planning there. And of course a cute little robot (operated by Lindsey Dorcus). It is about loyalty/disloyalty, the dangers of adventure, and memory. It was an awesome nerdfest, with lots of cool special effects, and it was a ton of fun.

The look and feel of the show was awesome. You became immersed in this scifi universe the moment that you walked in. The set (by Lee Keenan) was a giant floating pillar in the sky. (Someone should make the song "Blood Spi-ire in the Sky-y with Di-a-monds.") And the lights (also by Keenan) that they used were terrifyingly good but also terrifying. They added great sound (Sarah Espinoza) to make it even more terrifying. They had these lasers that could very possibly chop any of the characters in half, and it seemed like it could chop you too. And the costumes (Azumi Inaba) were really cool too. They had these really awesome space suits that had these different colored lights in their helmets that would tell you which function they were using. I liked the prosthetic limbs. They were very shiny and sparkly, which I found awesome. I expected them to look a little bit more like real limbs, but this was a good surprise.

One of my favorite scenes was when Childe put a computer chip in everyone's arm without their consent, which was a terrible thing to do. He thinks it is for the good of the whole team and he doesn't really think of the people as people. They are more test subjects or guinea pigs. Hirz was not very happy about this, as makes sense because someone has just snuck into her room at night and put a computer chip in her arm so that she can't go to sleep. Then she puts a syringe up to Childe and starts threatening him, which is pretty awesome and warranted. Childe offers her more money and asks how much she wants. Then she has my favorite line in the entire show: "How much you got, b*tch?" The audience just erupted with happiness. It shows how empowered and awesome she is and it shows that Childe doesn't win this battle even though he is rich and privileged. I kind of wish there was a whole show just about Hirz. I loved her and she also seemed to have a really interesting backstory that I wanted to know more about. I thought that Childe was an effective and great villain, but not completely a villain which was a kind of a confusing but awesome tactic.

Joey was even creepier than I have ever seen him, and I was in a show with him where he played a privileged, white politician! He wears a mask throughout the entire show that makes him look like a metallic lion or a bear, which shows how much surgery Trintignant has done on himself. His voice is very polished which is actually really creepy. I don't mean to be biased or anything, but I thought my dad did a great job in the show as Swift. I thought he really made his character brooding but not unlovable. I felt like at the end you could see how his journey progressed from not trying to let anyone help him at the beginning to accepting care at the end. I thought that Celestine was a great female character because she was really smart and talented but she wasn't snotty about it, which I think female characters written by men sometimes are. She seemed to really understand each of the math problems she was solving, but I sure didn't. Forqueray was a really great captain and I wish he could have stuck around longer. He seemed to be the least flawed person of the characters. He was great with teamwork and he seemed to be a real people person.

People who would like this show are people who like creepy surgeons, badass hackers, and Blood Spires in the Sky with Diamonds! I thought this was an awesome show. It was so much fun, and I think anyone who is truly a nerd will adore it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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