Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Revenge of the Space Pandas
Twelve-year-old Binky is attempting to build a two-speed clock with his friends Vivian and Bob, who just happens to be a talking sheep. Binky believes there are two speeds in the universe, the fast moving earth speed and a much slower one. If he can get his clock to work correctly and move them into the slower time, it will allow them to spin off earth and easily travel out of their Chicago suburb, leaving Earth standing still behind them until they return. But he unwittingly sends the trio across the galaxy to a planet called Crestview, run by a tyrant named George, and patrolled by a bunch of pandas (hence the title). Can our heroes escape the evil clutches of George, who likes to drop giant pumpkins on people's heads and make it home in time for lunch? Full of wit, style and substance, the play has enough irreverent dialogue for adults but plenty of silly situations and humans dressed as animals so kids will enjoy it too.
Director Carolyn McBurney and her talented cast set just the right goofy tone to allow for plenty of scenery chewing, especially from Mia Passarella's hilarious George, but also manage to provide a huge dose of charm that gives the production a sweet sincerity. While David Magadan and Emily Heald have appropriate childlike expressions, over-reactive movements, and sweet voices to portray the youthful Binky and Vivian, and they are both successful, it is Brian Maticic as Bob the Sheep and Passarella as the tyrant George whom you won't soon forget. Maticic is like a classic Warner Brothers cartoon character come to life. He is absolutely charming, animated and completely lovable as the wise cracking Bobjust don't try to tell him that you're serving a casserole for lunch. Passarella's wide-eyed expressions, over the top behavior, and temper tantrums as the wool-obsessed George are priceless.
The set design is fairly plain but it does include some fun projections from media designer Fernando Perez, including a couple of moving projections that add a bit of wit to the moments when our heroes are on the run. Silly, creative costumes from Melissa Kamel add to the hilarity with some simple, yet inspired, animal designs.
The feeling you always seem to get at a Brelby production is one of dedication: a dedicated group of young artists and actors who want to put on a show to stretch their limits and expand their boundariesand take the audience along on the journey with them. Brelby's Revenge of the Space Pandas does just thatit is a fun, silly romp across the galaxy and back with a talented director at the helm and some hilarious performances led by Maticic as a talking sheep you won't soon forget.
The Brelby Theatre Company production of Revenge of the Space Pandas or Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock runs through November 8th, 2014, with performances at 6835 N 58th Avenue in Glendale. Tickets are available at www.brelby.com or by phone at (623) 282-2781
Director: Carolyn McBurney