I took in Mac Rogers's Blast Radius at the final performance yesterday at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing the third and final of the Honeycomb Trilogy, Sovereign, when it lands in the Future. (June, I'm told.)
Blast Radius has an extremely conventional sci-fi plot, in the best way. Rogers knows his influences, borrows from good sources, but offers enough of his own ideas and unique characters that you feel like you're watching something you already know well (that's what genre is for, isn't it) but that feels fresh enough to keep you engaged. Even though the idea of a sci-fi trilogy is borrowed entirely from film, the fact is, the Blast Radius never feels overly concerned with being cinematic. Rogers constructs his effective and theatrical drama from fundamentally sound building blocks: a great ear for dialogue, well constructed scenes, high stakes. He's helped tremendously, of course, by a cast of extremely watchable, talented actors.
I've seen some other geek-theater that is tongue-in-cheek half the way
and then asks us to care about the characters near the end of a zippy narrative. The result can be mixed when the tone shifts come that furiously.
I appreciated that Rogers actually avoids that urge to fanboy wink. There's no moment where you feel like he's saying "Hey Look, Other Geeks" and makes overt reference to a comic book or movie or what-have-you. Instead, he is unwavering in his desire to take the play seriously, as he should, and earns serious moments because of it. There's also something nice about not feeling like any of the characters are safe. It's a play, after all, not a mini-series.
Jordana Williams needs a huge amount of credit for the success of the show, of course. It's staged effortlessly, and considering the number of characters, jumps in time, intermittently "pregnant" actors, giant bug arms, and scenes of high emotion, there's just a ton going on. The fact that it all seemed to naturally flow together in performance is a testament to her skill.
If I had any reservations, they're minimal. (There is one moment of stage combat... I've got a whole post half-written that I probably shouldn't post about stage-combat in New York's Indie Theater scene...) All in all, a fine play and a fine production. Someday, when you see The Honeycomb Trilogy at the Drama Book Shop, you'd best go pick it right up.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.