Review: Alvida and the Airship Pirates by Weird City Theatre
by Michael Meigs
I was on the last airship with Alvida out of Weird City on March 12 and as sometimes happens with scribes errant, I got too busy and distracted to send her, author John Carroll and their band of adventurers a proper bread-and-butter note.
Your mother may have admonished you about good manners, as does the mother of my children. It’s never too late, although sometimes it’s too late to do much good. I prefer the warm glow of virtue associated with writing the first review to hit the electronic doorstep, for there’s the cyberghost of a chance that it’ll attract another spectator. Or, to use the Britishism entirely appropriate to this steampunk adventure, it’ll put an additional bum on a seat.
The Weird citizens like to play with their plays. With this script John gave colleague Patti Teff-Niven as the eponymous Alvida a hand into chick adventure with the warm and vivacious Bridget Farias as her best buddy. The Alvida stage at the familiar imagination station of the Dougherty Arts Center featured a fine crew of female troopers on both sides as well as Weird regulars Kevin Gouldthorpe and Robert Berry.
I confess that I don’t know much about steampunk, a curious genre that seems half Victorian and half sci-fi, but I’ve noticed that it’s capturing a lot of imagination these days. Earlier this week, while I was checking background for the steampunk Tempest that Frank Benge is putting together for the Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock, I found that there’s even a steampunk Shakespeare website encouraging submissions of bard-derived steampunk adventures. That invitational tournament is open until the end of May.
Alvida and the Airship Pirates is a fable, not too different in concept from those Disney girl adventures produced as full length animated features every three or four years. Our Alvida is a princess betrothed against her will to a vain and clueless prince from a nearby realm; Chris Romani as Mommy the queen is a sourpuss and Daddy the king is a timorous wimp. The needs of high politics and allilance must be served at all costs, no matter the indignities offered to our gallant and cute heroine. Push comes to shove pretty quickly, Alvida gets grounded for her petulant refusal to submit to this scheme, and Alvida and buddy sail away in an airship to escape the yucky prince. Javier Smith gives chase but luckily the girlsies manage to connect with Daddy's wicked pirate brother. Ill and under the care of a bizarrely attired physician played by Kevin Gouldthorpe, Uncle yields command of his pirate airvessel to niece Alvida and the contest is on.
p>The show provided great fun at no psychic cost. The girls didn't have superpowers, but their pluck and derring-do were such that they didn't need them. Bridget could lay out a couple of witless guards with a swift backward kick, not breaking her rhythm or even deigning to look at them. The fights were funny tumbles and the good gals always won.
Robert Berry, double cast as Daddy and as Uncle, laid a rich layer of ham over the stage, sufficient to provide a picnic for a children's theatre. That ringing, apparently authentic British accent and his play-acting complicity with the audience gave us the feeling that we'd be ready to hop up there on the stage as well, if only we had a rubber sword.
The WCTC advertised that the music for this outing would come from Seattle steampunk band Abney Park but to tell the truth, I never noticed it. I was having to much fun watching all that girlpower.
Weird City Theatre plans to do a movie of Alvida and they're appealing to friends and fans to help raise the modest sum of $500 for better video equipment and a green screen. With 39 days to go at co-op fundraising site Indie-Go-Gothey're only $110 from the goal. All donors will get listed in the credits and if you put $50 or more into Alvida's treasure chest, you'll get a copy of the DVD. Ready to take a steampunk flyer of your own?
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