Review: "Space Nunz of the Rescue Mainframe" Makes a Flawless Touchdown in Brooklyn
Space Nunz of the Rescue Mainframe
Written by Elizabeth Wong, based on material generated by Hook & Eye Theater
Directed by Chad Lindsey
Presented by Hook & Eye Theater at The Mark O’Donnell Theater at The Entertainment Community Fund Arts Center
160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NYC
October 26-November 13, 2022
|L to R: Parnia "Nyx" Ayari, Afsheen Misaghi, and June Lienhard. Photo courtesy The PR Social|
In an opening scene that makes attention-grabbing use of darkness and neon, we meet the interstellar nunz, part of an order dedicated to recovering and preserving the history of an unlivable Earth for a humanity that now persists in various offworld colonies. Soon, the bulk of the crew departs for mandatory vacation in recognition of Mars Day, leaving behind only Sister Ignatius (Cynthia Babak), who goes by Iggy, and Sister Olympus Mons (Elizabeth London), or Olly for short. Although Sister Olly is more than ready to enjoy her vacation plans, Sister Iggy plans to stay behind and work on a cache of recovered twenty-first-century vlog entries known as The Chloe Chronicles, and Olly is not about to let Iggy do this on her own. Perched atop a tubular white structure reminiscent of those old Capsela Spacelink toy sets, Iggy and Olly interface with Daffodil (Nylda Mark), an A.I. of few words but many emojis whose past as a trash compactor seems fitting for an existence dedicated to preserving the ephemera of human experience. The files which they peruse construct the play's second, parallel narrative, which concerns university dropout-turned-vlogger Chloe (June Lienhard), from whom the Chronicles take their name, and her dive-bar owning brother, Cam (Jake Malavsky), both of whom are regarded as underachieving by their WASP-y mother, Sahara (Carrie Heitman). Cam has just met and is attracted to Nik (Afsheen Misaghi), who is on medical leave from the military. Nik's mother, Leela (Parnia "Nyx" Ayari) immigrated to the United States from Iran to escape government oppression, but it is events from a more recent past that will come to the fore as the characters' New Hampshire town approaches its Founders' Day celebration.
|An example of the show's backdrops. Photo courtesy The PR Social|
One might see as a further layer the use of A.I.-generated art of the DALL·E variety (i.e., produced by the A.I. from a set of inputted keywords) in the production's projected backdrops. The set design in combination with the future-slang and intertextual allusions woven through the dialogue create a feeling of textural richness, and the talented cast handles hilarity and poignancy with equal assurance. "Filters" applied by Iggy and Olly at a certain stage to the recovered vlog material give the performers a chance to take the comedy really big, with irresistibly funny results (watching Babak and Londo's nunz watching these scenes is entertaining in itself). Your own memories of Space Nunz of the Rescue Mainframe may not end up etched on a golden record floating to the ends of the universe, but, as the play ultimately affirms, that won't make them any less valuable.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards
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