Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Visit to a Small Planet
Rauscher is Kreton, a well-spoken representative of a civilization far ahead of our own. His world has conquered the desire for either love or war, replacing passion with intellectual satisfaction, so he's decided to visit Manassas, Virginianot far from the theater in Arlingtonduring the Battle of Bull Run (the 150th anniversary of which, coincidentally, falls during the run of this production). However, he goes slightly off course, landing in the right geographic area, but in the wrong year: 1958 in the rose garden of the Spelding family.
The head of the family, Roger Spelding (Steve Lebens), is a television commentator and a bit of a blowhard; his wife Reba (Kelly Cronenberg) is very concerned about appearances; and college-age daughter Ellen (Megan Graves) is carrying on a romance with the sweet farmer next door (Noah Bird). Also in the house is family friend General Tom Powers (John Tweel), a pompous fellow whom the Pentagon has placed in charge of examining the possible alien invasion. And there's Rosemary the cat, who becomes Kreton's best friend in the house.
Under the guidance of director Rip Claassen, Rauscher bubbles with enthusiasm, reveling in the smallest things (from sitting in a swivel chair to smelling bacon) like a large child with an elaborate new toy. His facial expressions alone are delightful to watch. Tweel is amusing as a military man in over his headbefore the current situation, he was in charge of the logistics of Army laundryand Lebens is convincingly insincere as a broadcast personality who puts on a down-home accent when he's on the air. Graves sparkles as a young woman who discovers powers in herself she never suspected.
Scenic designer Noel Greer and costume designer Rosalie Ferris have done solid work here, but Micah Stromberg's lighting design and Ed Moser's sound design really bring the setting to life.
American Century Theater