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Where's the monster?

Red Planet Respite 's appealing premise falls mostly flat.

Red Planet Respite at Circle Circle dot dot.
Red Planet Respite at Circle Circle dot dot.

Red Planet Respite

GlobalCom Venture Capital’s “first interactive resort on Mars” is still a work in progress. So is the script for Circle Circle dot dot’s slow, spotty tale of corruption and greed in far-away places.

The premise has appeal. It’s 2044. The social media’s become a totalitarian judge of right and wrong. No one makes a move without consulting the oracles — Facebook, Twitter, MySpace — to see if it’ll be not important or useful, just popular. Reporters must limit questions to trivia, and interviewees must trim answers to accommodate miniscule attention spans — i.e. you have, say, 20 seconds to explain Newtonian Mechanics.

Because of social mediation, GlobalCom Venture Capital’s Mars project lost funding. Only the entertainment pods have been enriched, and only for the hyper-wealthy. And even the pods need an okay. So two celebrities — Olympic silver medalist Addison Lee and Dr. Lucian James, who made a billion off robotics — make the 30 day, four hour trip to the Red Planet to bestow their approval, or not.

And we’re in. Or should be. But the 75-minute first Act spends way too much time explaining things. There are funny bits but no suspense and the insides of scenes are so static one’s tempted to ask “where’s the monster?”

It arrives at the end of Act one and is huge indeed. More suggestions of the encroaching menace would help frame the flagging early scenes, as would major tightening.

Except for some key information, the script could begin near the end of Act one. But then one would miss much of Jacque Wilke’s terrific performance as Shannon Castron. If you don’t count Deimos, a TMI robot, she’s been on Mars nurturing plants alone for some while.

Wilke’s entrance — she’s really delighted to see another human being — kicks energy into the mostly flat first act (as does Soroya Rowley’s as the mono-tonal Deimos, who gives directions along with commercials). But other than that the dialogue and the semi-conflicts among characters are predictable.

It’s clear, and tedious, that Lucian James (Justin Lang in a one-note, butch seducer role) will hit on Addison (Caitlin Ross) again and again. And that Dr. Rivka Rosario (Jyl Kaneshiro, who can do much more) will face front and fret. The script does give Teddy Commons, the project director, and engineer Noah Robertson some emotional moments and Patrick Kelly and Kevane La’Marr Coleman make the most of them.

The script has funny moments. When the tourists come to Mars, rather than check out the terrain, or see if there’s actually a human face on Cydonia, they go to the Virtual Reality pod. “Who needs reality,” one asks, “when you can have Disney?”

Kristen Flores’ white-pod set gains huge credibility from Boyd Branch’s excellent “media design” — stills and moving images of the earth; roving copper-red dust storms on Mars — and from Matt Lescault-Wood’s sounds and space- (and spacey) themed music.

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Red Planet Respite at Circle Circle dot dot.
Red Planet Respite at Circle Circle dot dot.

Red Planet Respite

GlobalCom Venture Capital’s “first interactive resort on Mars” is still a work in progress. So is the script for Circle Circle dot dot’s slow, spotty tale of corruption and greed in far-away places.

The premise has appeal. It’s 2044. The social media’s become a totalitarian judge of right and wrong. No one makes a move without consulting the oracles — Facebook, Twitter, MySpace — to see if it’ll be not important or useful, just popular. Reporters must limit questions to trivia, and interviewees must trim answers to accommodate miniscule attention spans — i.e. you have, say, 20 seconds to explain Newtonian Mechanics.

Because of social mediation, GlobalCom Venture Capital’s Mars project lost funding. Only the entertainment pods have been enriched, and only for the hyper-wealthy. And even the pods need an okay. So two celebrities — Olympic silver medalist Addison Lee and Dr. Lucian James, who made a billion off robotics — make the 30 day, four hour trip to the Red Planet to bestow their approval, or not.

And we’re in. Or should be. But the 75-minute first Act spends way too much time explaining things. There are funny bits but no suspense and the insides of scenes are so static one’s tempted to ask “where’s the monster?”

It arrives at the end of Act one and is huge indeed. More suggestions of the encroaching menace would help frame the flagging early scenes, as would major tightening.

Except for some key information, the script could begin near the end of Act one. But then one would miss much of Jacque Wilke’s terrific performance as Shannon Castron. If you don’t count Deimos, a TMI robot, she’s been on Mars nurturing plants alone for some while.

Wilke’s entrance — she’s really delighted to see another human being — kicks energy into the mostly flat first act (as does Soroya Rowley’s as the mono-tonal Deimos, who gives directions along with commercials). But other than that the dialogue and the semi-conflicts among characters are predictable.

It’s clear, and tedious, that Lucian James (Justin Lang in a one-note, butch seducer role) will hit on Addison (Caitlin Ross) again and again. And that Dr. Rivka Rosario (Jyl Kaneshiro, who can do much more) will face front and fret. The script does give Teddy Commons, the project director, and engineer Noah Robertson some emotional moments and Patrick Kelly and Kevane La’Marr Coleman make the most of them.

The script has funny moments. When the tourists come to Mars, rather than check out the terrain, or see if there’s actually a human face on Cydonia, they go to the Virtual Reality pod. “Who needs reality,” one asks, “when you can have Disney?”

Kristen Flores’ white-pod set gains huge credibility from Boyd Branch’s excellent “media design” — stills and moving images of the earth; roving copper-red dust storms on Mars — and from Matt Lescault-Wood’s sounds and space- (and spacey) themed music.

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