Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
This is a comedy drama about a team of four oddballs who take part in an experimental space mission to nowhere. They battle it out over tedium, fleshly cravings, and food. It seems that Tugg (Paul Rodrigues) has eaten all of the ice cream sandwiches (don't ask me why they have ice cream sandwiches on board) and all hell breaks loose. Tugg, who is no Captain Kirk, barks out orders to the other three members of the Cosmos 1 team and he also spends a lot of time in the ship's "Emotion Chamber."
Amy (Nora Doane) wants to be a real astronaut with NASA. She questions if this involvement has any association to the real thing. Ripp (Daniel Chung) has the credentials of a minor in psychology at UC Davis. He thinks aliens are listening in on their every conversation. He is also a virgin and believes that this mission will free him from his sheltered past. Rounding out the crew is supercilious Jones (Adrian Deane) who has a PhD in geology and is cynical of Amy's qualifications to be a real astronaut.
The opening in the second act where the crew is being interviewed on television is excellent and conversations between Jones and Amy are great. Ripp's sexual frustration could be fleshed out more. The kissing of the members of the crew in the first act in the Emotion Chamber goes on too long and it could be cut down.
Paul Rodrigues gives a good portrayal of the cocky caption in a ludicrously campy performance that is faultless. Daniel Chung's excellent, low key performance as Ripp is perfect toward his warring teammates. Adrian Dean and Becky Hirschfeld give stimulating performances, especially Hirschfeld.
Carlos Aceves has expertly created a two-level starship with corrugated metal walls, blinking lights, and plastic chairs. Wes Crain's costumes are "Star Trek" quality, especially the tinfoil suit worn by Daniel Chung. Director James Nelson keeps the multiple scenes moving speedily. Bottom line: This feels like an extended version of a funny "Saturday Night Live" skit.
The Ice Cream Sandwich Incident runs through August 27, 2016, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 6 pm Performances at Piano Fights at 144 Taylor Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtain at www.FaultLinetheater.com.