By Kathleen Warnock; Directed by Eric Chase
Produced by TOSOS
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.27.16
VENUE #3: Teatro LATEA at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street
by Sarah Weber on 8.18.16
Tim Burke, Jamie Heinlein, and Mark Finley in The Further Adventures Of.... Photo by Katrina del Mar.
BOTTOM LINE: Maggie Day is tasked with writing a book on her favorite sci-fi show, and the more she learns about its actors, the more she learns about herself.
Historically, science fiction can address controversial subjects without getting into (much) trouble. The original Star Trek, for example, featured actors of color as leading officers of the USS Enterprise just a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In creating The Twilight Zone, Rod Sterling could express his views on racism, sexism, and politics since the show was, after all, just “fiction.” Paying homage to this tradition is Kathleen Warnock’s The Further Adventures Of…, a poignant exploration of science fiction, LGBTQ identity, and integrity in the face of the fickle, often shallow, fancies of Hollywood.
The Further Adventures Of… features Maggie Day (Jamie Heinlein), a writer working on a book about the 1950’s sci-fi serial Atlantis, 1 Million Years B.C. However, this is definitely an ensemble piece. Portraying the many characters and people Maggie meets are Mark Finley and Tim Burke—these three performers masterfully create the show’s many locations with only a bare stage, minimal light cues, and their intuitive stage presence.
Warnock’s text begins with Maggie espousing her lifetime love for Atlantis, 1 Million Years B.C. The show’s featured characters were Commander Zoron (Finley) and Prince Kal (Burke), two best friends who may or may not have been more than best friends. Maggie spent most of her childhood composing fan fiction about the show, writing her own episodes or rewriting the ones that frustrated her. Now a publisher has asked her to write a book about the show’s creation and the famous actors, Frank Gallagher (Burke) and Drake Darling (Finley), who portrayed her favorite characters.
In learning about Atlantis behind the camera, we learn that Frank and Drake were lovers. But, because it was the 1950s, no one could find out or else the public would boycott the show. In keeping their love a secret, the two men's public personas eventually took over. Frank Gallagher married a woman and started a family, and Drake Darling fell into depression accompanied by drugs and liquor. While learning about these secrets, Maggie struggles with her own obstacles: she can’t seem to find balance between spending time with her career and spending time with her wife. Maggie also relates to the men's conflicts as she reflects on the family she lost during her own coming-out story. Eventually, Maggie is confronted by a producer who wants to turn her book into a movie, but also wants to remove any indication of Frank and Drake’s relationship.
One of Warnock's clever devices is maintaining Maggie’s habit of writing (or rewriting) Drake and Frank’s lives. As we learn more about Atlantis, sometimes we’re brought to a flashback of a possible conversation between the ill-fated couple. Are we actually going back in time during these scenes? Or are these machinations of Maggie’s imagination, much like her Atlantis fan fiction from childhood?
Overall The Further Adventures Of… is a creative think-piece on the tradition of using storytelling to escape our own reality. (Or, perhaps, to create a better reality?) Since the show relies heavily upon narration it does tend to ramble, especially towards the end. But it’s still a thought-provoking experience and I look forward to seeing where it goes next.
(The Further Adventures Of... plays at VENUE #3: Teatro LATEA at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, through August 27, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 15 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Fri 8/12 at 5; Mon 8/15 at 7; Sat 8/20 at 7:15; Wed 8/24 at 5; and Sat 8/27 at 9:15. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit tososnyc.org.)
The Further Adventures Of... is by Kathleen Warnock. Directed by Eric Chase. Sound Design is by Morry Campbell. Stage Manager and Assistant Director is Mary Louise Mooney.
The cast is Tim Burke, Mark Finley, and Jamie Heinlein.