“Lost in Space and Time”
Paradise in Augustine’s
13th – 27th August
At times, the Fringe feels like nothing more than a series of scheduling screw-ups, calendar clashes and venue fails, as scatterbrained reviewers charge across town muttering ‘How was I supposed to know it was that Pleasance?’ and ‘Oh, you mean the other Assembly!’
I was supposed to have been reviewing Sweet Talking Guy, but after being issued with the wrong ticket, was refused admission and directed to another venue to see Quantum Battlestar Deep-Space Voyager Tardis Wars: The Million-Dollar Space Epic. It didn’t say that on my ticket – Quantum Battlestar Deep is all there was space for – but it didn’t matter: I had already stepped through the wormhole and it was too late for turning back.
Space and time would appear to be amorphous concepts at the Fringe; get just one of these properties wrong and you could wind up in the wrong theatre reviewing the wrong show. Still, you can only review what’s in front of you, and with the show set to start, there was little chance to demur.
Quantum Battlestar Deep-Space Voyager Tardis Wars: The Million-Dollar Space Epic, as its name would suggest, is a pastiche of every sci-fi series ever made. Think of an intergalactic cliche and it’ll be lampooned, pilloried or vapourised at some point in proceedings. The worst crime any sci-fi show can commit is to take itself too seriously, which is probably why Star Trek ends up bearing the brunt of the jokes. Thankfully the word ‘serious’ is as alien to the crew of the Starship Nebula as the Wibble invaders who they must vanquish. This is a show that revels in ineptitude and wallows in its own incompetence; it’s willfully silly and deliberately unfocused. Self-aware, sardonic, self-referential and fourth wall-obliterating as this may be, would it be asking too much for the cast to stay in character for long enough to actually do their jobs? Apparently so. Still, at least they appear to be enjoying themselves as they chatter with the audience about all the fun to be had spoofing the sci-fi classics.
Quantum Battlestar Deep has the air of a production that’s been thrown together during an hour-long drama class, with predictable results: it’s occasionally hilarious and frequently a complete shambles. The one section that appears to have been thoughtfully scripted – a soliloquy extolling the virtues of the sci-fi geek – is overly-sentimental, whereas the remainder of the show is too flippant. That said, it has some delicious touches, including the tinfoil hats that are issued to the audience and a moment of fail so epic it induces a Captain Picard facepalm. True sci-fi buffs will enjoy spotting all the cultural references, while the rest of us will smile faintly and wish we were in a different space and time altogether.
Since our last attempt at a rating system (scoring video games out of 79) was such a raging success, we’ve decided to adopt an entirely new system for the Fringe: each show’s rating will be represented as a shooped reaction face. Of a cat. Because…well, just because. We’ve got an entire folder of this cat’s RFs, and it seems only right to put them to good use, helping people make an informed decision about the merits of each show. Let kitty be your guide, cos that’s as close to a rating system as you’re gonna get.