The Intergalactic Nemesis: Twin Infinity
'The Intergalactic Nemesis: Twin Infinity,' the third installment in Salvage Vanguard Theater's retro radio serial, is the only conclusion to a space opera trilogy you need this summer.
Reviewed by Robert Faires, Fri., June 24, 2005
The Intergalactic Nemesis: Twin Infinity
The Off Center, through June 25
Running Time: 2 hrs
As if it weren't enough that ace reporter Molly Sloan has saved the world World?! Get me Rewrite: Saved the universe! twice already, now it's up to this never-say-die newshound to haul the cosmos' keister out of the fire yet again, and on her wedding day, no less! But since Molly's not one to shy away from a Page One scoop hey, she didn't cop that Pulitzer for sob-sister copy in the Garden Club Gazette she's on the case, nuptials or no (and it's pretty tough to tie the matrimonial knot when the groom is MIA). So before you can shout, "Stop the presses!," the intrepid ink slinger is off dodging Adolf's stormtroopers in swastika-studded Berlin, parachuting into the heart of mist-shrouded Bhutan, and seeking out a superscientific fortress at the top of the world, where holy moly! she winds up with two versions of the man she was to marry, the same joe but from alternate futures! It's a tight spot, but not too tight for Our Miss Sloan, who shows in her planet-saving escapades that the third time's the charm.
The third time's the charm, too, for Salvage Vanguard Theater, which has mounted this crackerjack adventure of Molly Sloan's, as well as the two previous installments in The Intergalactic Nemesis series, all performed in the style of 1930s radio drama, with sound effects created live and actors standing in front of microphones, holding scripts, and serving up the snappy patter and gee-whillikers sense of wonder in them with all the gusto they can muster. SVT originally cooked up this homage to retro radio and Flash Gordon-style sci-fi as a lark in the mid-Nineties. But the creators had so much fun with it and pulled it off so well that a couple of revivals followed, and nine years later here we are with a second sequel. Like the two that came before, Twin Infinity lovingly resurrects the exotic locales, exuberant period slang, daredevil derring-do, and what-now cliff-hangers of the old-school adventure serials in all their hokey glory, with scripters Ray Colgan, Chad Nichols, and SVT Artistic Director Jason Neulander tweaking them just enough to coax forth laughs along with the adventure. They keep the story hurtling along in the best serial fashion, rocketing (sometimes literally) from one danger-infested part of the globe to another, with our heroine and her companions taking each threat in plucky stride. It's like a ride on an old-fashioned roller coaster, where part of the thrill is hearing the rattle and groan of the wood beneath you as you swoop and swerve over the tracks.
Neulander directs his cast to play the show without the wink common to so many parodies, with the upshot being that the show is all the funnier for it while the narrative and characters keep us engaged long after the jokes would have played out. Lee Eddy's Molly Sloan leads the way, radiating enough moxie for a dozen Lois Lanes and a few Brenda Starrs, to boot. Watching her back is jack of all trades Sujeet Ranamaharavna, whose utter unflappability, as voiced by Mike D'Alonzo, makes his every line a delight. Brent Werzner has the unenviable task of playing the straight man twice over as Molly's men out of time, Ben Wilcott the historian from the future and Ben Wilcott the geneticist from the future, but he imbues them both with a stalwart appeal and distinguishes each from the other with subtle shifts of voice such that he can be arguing with himself and we can still tell which Ben is which. This adventure's nemeses are the mad scientist Heinrich Heinemuellerschlossenschlagermeisterschloss (D'Alonzo again, with a pitch-perfect megalomaniacal laugh) and Dr. Natalya Zorokov (Jenny Larson, so impossibly world-weary that every "da" comes out as an exhalation of existentialism). We know their scheme to breed some unholy human-alien hybrid master race isn't as unstoppable as it looks (or sounds, in the hands of crack Foley artists Buzz Moran and Etta Sanders), but the fun is in seeing and hearing how it all plays out, chapter by unlikely chapter, cued in and out by our ever-refined narrator, Mr. LB Deyo.
Now, there is apparently some other galaxy-spanning space opera inspired by old serials that's concluding a years-in-the-making trilogy this summer. Not to play favorites, but considering all the ink that one's been sucking up, you gotta know how it ends: The not-so-much-of-a-hero gets carved up like a Christmas ham and sealed in a suit of black lacquered Tupperware. That's adventure? Give me the wisecracking dame with a nose for scoops going toe-to-toe with would-be world conquerors at the North Pole any day of the week. In this timeline or the other Ben Wilcott's timeline.