Roughly this time last year at the Vault Festival, in the wake of David Bowie’s death, the timely Songs For The End Of The World captured the zeitgeist. This year, Hannah Elsy who recently produced The Quentin Denton Show to acclaim, has brought her latest project to the Vaults – Summer Nights In Space. With book, music and lyrics by Henry Carpenter and direction by Sinead O’Callaghan, this musical space comedy has much to say about human nature if one can see past its initial ‘premise’.
In terms of its influences, Summer Nights In Space is very much from the same cloth as the movie Moon (with Sam Rockwell) and TV comedy Red Dwarf. Captain John Spartan (Matthew Morgan) isn’t thought of as a hero or welcome on Earth. Instead, Spartan is very much ‘alone’ on his vessel apart from the droll, but amusing (space)ship’s computer and the sentient alarm clock. That is, until he goes to the aid of a distress beacon and an alien sneaks on board…
On stage for pretty much the whole show, Morgan maintains our interest throughout as the nebbish John Spartan, who even in the future is a world apart from his peers. Benjamin Victor as his suitably abrasive ‘rapping’ peer from Space Base, gives an insight into why Spartan might find three years in space as a preferable option to staying on Earth. However it is Candice Palladino’s antisocial alien that opens the story and acts as a catalyst for Spartan’s epiphany. There’s even a moment of unrequited love, but who ends up forlorn would be telling…
Musically, the range of songs are as consistently strong as those in The Quentin Dentin Show, with each pushing the plot and character development forward and enjoyable to listen to in their own right. And even though the show is a musical (as opposed to a ‘heavy’, straight play), if one looks beyond all the ‘space’ references, Summer Nights is timeless – Man’s search for meaning and his place in the universe.
© Michael Davis 2017
Summer Nights In Space runs at the Vaults until 19th February 2017
VAULT Festival | 15- 19 Feb | 6pm