Summer Nights in Space
Summer Nights In Space
Summer Nights In Space is a new musical by Henry Carpenter which opened last night (15th February) at the Vaults Festival. In its blurb it describes itself as a ‘Musical comedy about the search for love across the universe.’ It tells the story of John Spartan, our space obsessed astronaut, who finds out that space is not all it seems. With only the company of the ships computer and later an Alien Spartan discovers the meaning of friendship.
Sci-Fi is one of the more unusual themes for a musical. Shows like Rocky Horror Show proves that it can work if executed well, however in the case of Summer Nights In Space neither the plot, script or music can save me from thinking that it is probably a more unusual theme for a reason.
All of the numbers in Summer Nights in Space sound very similar. Despite having been subjected to these for an hour I still left being unable to hum any of the melodies or sing any of the lyrics. The score also suffers from the fact that for the first half of the show it is a one man show and then it becomes a 2 hander for the latter part of the show. That means that there is little opportunity for harmony lines (save for the odd duet) or much depth to the music and you end up getting bored of the same persons voice.
John Spartan is played by Matthew Jacob Morgan and to be fair to Morgan he does the best with the material he is given. It sounds as if he has a decent voice although the arrangement doesn’t show it off to its full potential. He is full of energy, committed to the show and despite some jokes falling flat he doesn’t let his smile waiver. The Alien is played by Candice Palladino who has a strong voice and a good stylised way of moving to try to portray her character. Candice’s struggle however was that I failed to see the point of this character. Spartan learns the chunk of his hard earned lesson from the computer rather than the Alien and the Alien’s role in the ending is supplemental to Spartan’s discovery.
The final actor is Benjamin Victor who plays the voice of the Computer and also Lethal Space Bizzle. With the appearance of Lethal Space Bizzle at the end I felt genuinely uncomfortable. I was unsure as to the emotion this character was supposed to evoke and genuinely unclear if I was supposed to be laughing at this character (which I was doing) or feeling dislike towards him for his role in the story (which was probably more appropriate).
Whilst the idea of Summer Nights In Space is an interesting premise the first part of the show, until the Alien appears needs more pace, development and contrast within it. There were funny moments in the script however these moments needed to be more frequent and there needed to be a greater distinction between these and the more tender moments of the piece. Should the team behind Summer Nights In Space wish to develop it further they would do well to watch the audience’s reaction each night and note down what genuinely got a laugh. I also failed to understand the relevance of some plot points, for example the distress call and Spartan’s subsequent mission didn’t assist with the plot development and just added an unnecessary element to the show.
This show unfortunately reminds me of the lows of festival theatre. Whilst often there are hidden gems at festivals of this type you often have to sit through many disappointments to discover that gem and Summer Nights In Space was one of those disappointments.
Summer Nights in Space is on as part of the Vaults Festival until 19th February.