The Column Online



Produced and Written by Kevin Michael Fuld

Camp Death Productions

Stage Manager – Pallas Lam
Set Designer – Chase Hughes
Costume Designer – Shanna Gobin Threlkeld
Sound Designer – Dylan Mobley
Light Designer – Tamara Harris
Property Designer- Mason Brunkelman
Board Ops – Christopher Lee Johnson
Poster Art – Allison Rebecca Ivey & Jack Pinder
Producer/Production Manager – Ande Bewley
Producer/Social Media – Natalia Borja
Publicity Designer – Bill Otstott
Script Editor – Jeny Siddall

Indiana Solo – Hallie Davidson
Dr. Karen Exposition – Jeny Siddall
Admiral Fogger – Rhonda Durant
Nerfherder – Andrew Bryan
Professor Exposition – Alex Wade
Bubba Fatt/Franz/Mel – Fred Patterson
Hefeweizen – Jonathan Sicard
THX – Ashley Bownds
Turnankopf/No-Arm/Franz – Micah Henderson
Hot Alien Chick/Hans/Swing – Jordan Cox
Wolfman Jack – Dylan Mobley

Reviewed Performance: 6/23/2018

Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Over the last few years we have been inundated with 80’s nostalgia. That is natural as those who grew up during that time assume positions of creative influence. I was in my thirties during that time and will admit I was not wild about most of the movies, music and TV shows of that era. But I become an honorary “fan-boy” when the topic of the first “Star Wars” films and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” come up. Both “Episode 1-A New Hope” of “Star Wars” and Raiders…” evoke a child-like joy in me. They were both fun and exciting and evoked the excitement of past films while being something entirely new.

But they are not new anymore and some of the joy has been worn away by sequels (some good, some execrable.) and a mash-up of homages and parodies which followed these films from the start (Anyone remember “Hardware Wars”?) until the present time. So, what may seem edgy and smart can dull under the weight of previous exposure to this type of material. A production must make itself stand out as something special to distinguish itself as something more than reference material for fans. The performance of “Indiana Solo and the Hunt for the Jewelled MacGuffin” that I saw Saturday night struggles to stand out but, in the end, because of sluggish pace and uneven acting fails to leave a lasting impression. The script manages to fulfill its job of providing cultural references for the Theatre’s fan base, but this performance lacked the energy and joy needed for a parody such as this to fully succeed.

In his notes, playwright Kevin Michael Fuld tells us that the original script was completed ten years ago, and, pulling it out of the “mothballs”, decided to switch the gender of the lead character from male to female to satirize the chauvinistic attitude toward women these characters exhibit. It works for the most part but needs more continuity throughout the script. More than once our female hero is referred to as him (As Daffy Duck would say, “Pronoun trouble.”). That could be intentional on the part of the playwright to mess with the audience and it is a very minor distraction.

Camp Death Productions has a goal of giving the works of local artists a “basic” production to introduce them to the public and give them a boost into their future in theatre. The area needs a talent incubator and I applaud Kevin Michael Fuld for doing this. Also, I understand that money is a scarce commodity for all theatre companies so the production lives on what little you can spend and how much you can beg and borrow from other companies. “Indiana Solo…” shows both how inspired a shoe-string production can be (A Simon game and two reading lamps for starship controls) and how shoddy (An ultimate death weapon that could hardly stand up). A person can accept the low-budget aspect of the production if the acting and direction provide the energy to engage the audience and carry them breathlessly along on their journey to the end.

The biggest fault of the production was the pace and that was due to overly long set changes and awkward transitions from scene to scene. The script is very cinematic in places and ends in places that would work well as a film edit but not on stage. Some scenes tend to end abruptly, leaving the actors waiting for the lights to go out. More could be done with lights and music to smooth out these moments and heighten the excitement that is inherent in the material. The number of silent dark moments between scenes, especially apparent in the second act where tension needs to build, made it hard for me sustain interest in what was happening. My hope is further performances will smooth this out and this show can be the crowd-pleaser it has the potential to be.

The direction by Alex Wade is workman-like but could benefit from speed reads to keep the pace of the play crisp. And there are times when multiple actors on stage seem cramped and unsure of where to stand. There are some comic bits that Mr. Wade included that are well conceived and audiences will appreciate. Again, some of this will straighten itself out with future performances.

The set designed by Chase Hughes is a low-budget marvel for the most part. The starship, the actual bar to hold drinks at Mel’s Drive-in, the simple set pieces indicating a temple show style and inventiveness. The lights by Tamara Harris are serviceable and the costumes by Shanna Gobin Threlkeld conveyed the character references perfectly. She also made the space Nazis very stylish and threatening.

In shows where the premise is silly and the whole point of the process is to have fun, the cast needs to have total commitment to the task and provide the energy necessary to carry the audience with them. Some of the cast rise to the challenge and others will get there with added performances under their belt. Hallie Davidson as Indiana Solo shines as the stalwart, eternally on the make, intergalactic archeologist. I will admit that I didn’t much like the character at first but as the play progressed I warmed up to her and at the end I was a fan. The scene where Indiana lets her bravado slip to reveal true emotion for another character is especially effective.

Alex Wade shines as Professor Exposition with his lovely voice and total commitment to the part. Also worthy of mention is Fred Patterson as a Texan bounty hunter sporting the name Bubba Fatt. Covered in tattoos and chewing on a toothpick, Mr. Patterson leaves a lasting impression. Rhonda Durant is wonderfully menacing as the evil Nazi Admiral Fogger and Jonathan Sicard is funny as her put upon lackey Hefeweizen.

I applaud the courage and the talent of all the cast and crew who gave their time and effort to produce this show. And the chance to see original material from local playwrights is something that the theatre-going public and the local theatre scene should embrace. So, find your way to the Magnolia Lounge/Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park support Death Camp Productions in its mission and bathe in some 80’s nostalgia. It’s a work in progress, but then, isn’t everything? And progress means there is hope.

Camp Death Productions
June 22 – July 8, 2018
Margo Jones Theatre in the Magnolia Lounge
1121 1st Ave, Dallas, TX 75210
Fair Park
For parking, enter through the Grand Avenue gate and let the guard know you are going to the Magnolia Lounge and you will be directed to the parking area.
Thursday – Saturday – 8:15PM
Sundays – 3:00PM
Tickets - $18.00
For tickets and information visit Camp Death Productions on Facebook.