REVIEW: SUMMER NIGHTS IN SPACE (The Vaults) ★★★
Summer Nights In Space is a convivial, bright, jocular musical with original music and songs, though beware, Oklahoma this ain’t!
Astronaut John Spartan has accomplished his lifelong ambition and made it into space, as Captain of Auxiliary Transport Shuttle 4. However, after three years with only the mechanical voice of the all pervading rocket ship’s computer for company, John is lonely. When, he receives a distress call from from a young female astronaut, could his prayers be answered? Can he rescue her? Will the over officious computer let him? Will she let him for that matter?
The rescue does not go to plan and John finds himself sharing his spaceship with a ferocious flesh eating alien tethered by an uncomfortably long security rope. Not exactly an improvement in his lot to say the least. True, she does has the curvaceous form of a seriously nubile nymphet and she is quite alluring, if you can ignore the green skin discolouration. However her natural desire to devour him is a little off putting, even for him. No one likes to be loved just for their protein value. Now, if only they can come to some kind of mutually beneficial accommodation, then all might not be lost.
Captain Spartan’s backing group are three talented, alien looking musicians, referred to as The Spacebugs. They are poker faced throughout, never cracking a smile. Imagine spending three years in Space with Captain John, playing the same half dozen tunes daily. No wonder they are miserable and then some.
The story, music and lyrics are all by the multi-talented Henry Carpenter. The story is full of twists and about turns right up to the end, and the character of Captain John Spartan proves to be more resilient than you might have expected. The songs are very good but without any particularly memorable numbers. They do however progress the story nicely and provide an excellent vehicle for Captain John’s fine voice.
Captain John Spartan is played by the excellent Matthew Jacobs Morgan who is an experienced actor and excellent singer. Look for him on television in programmes such as Midsummer Murders and Wasted. He has a warm personality and delightful sense of humour.
The Alien is played by the quirky (as stated in the programme notes) actress and singer, Candice Palladino. Candice is a accomplished actress who’s character, in this play, varies between flesh eating alien and the love interest. It is a pity that her delightful face is covered in thick green monster make up.
Both Lethal Space Bizzle, John’s nemesis, and Computer are played by Benjamin Victor, an experienced stage actor and, as you will hear if you go and see the show, something of a super cool Rap artist.
As a cross between Alien and The Rocky Horror Show, this inventive production works well. The scenery could be more exciting and some early computer glitches need to be ironed out, but overall it is well worth seeing.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
Summer Nights In Space plays at The Vaults, Waterloo until 19 February 2017