Walking into the Alley Theater is a bit like walking into a converted warehouse.
Come to think of it, that’s exactly what it is.
While the Alley is in the process of opening a new theatre directly below their current space at The Pointe in Butchertown, they are continuing their quality productions, for the present, in the large and creatively partitioned space they acquired just over two years ago.
It is here, suitably, that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Radio Plays has been staged. As the action of the play spans the entire galaxy, it seems fitting that the audience is surrounded by dark space, as they watch and listen to a play about…dark space.
More of a staged reading than full-fledged action-packed production, the emphasis of The Guide is most definitely on the words and subtle humor. With a cast of six proficient actors, director Dana Hope has taken several episodes of the actual radio series broadcast in 1978 and turned them into a full-length show, interspersed with some entertaining segues between installments.
These are the episodes upon which the 2005 movie is based. Arthur Dent narrowly escapes death as his alien-friend Ford Prefect saves him seconds before Earth is destroyed. The duo somehow survives countless mishaps as they fumble through the universe.
Watching the characters embrace the radio style was enjoyable, especially as they worked together to create the different sound effects needed to transfer the action over the airwaves.
Of notable mention was Alan Canon (The Book), who excelled in transforming his voice and presence to fit his many characters. Also on point were John Aurelius (Ford Prefect) and Kent Carney (Arthur Dent), both of whom accepted the challenge of carrying their characters without overdoing the physical—something that wouldn’t have been seen on the radio.
There were times where the radio show convention was broken, namely when two of the actors wrapped their arms about Dent and Prefect, and several moments when flashing light cues seemed a bit misplaced.
Aside from these minor inconsistencies and a drawn-out curtain call which bordered on painful for the small audience, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at The Alley Theater is good for something just a little different.
Don’t panic. You still have a chance to catch some pretty decent British accents (including that of the board operator/mysterious announcer) with your popcorn and beer. The Alley Theater’s production of The Guide runs through November 19.
Tickets are $18 in advance online, $20 on show day. Students can purchase $10 tickets at the door. Contact The Alley Theater box office at (502) 713-6178.
Image: Courtesy of The Alley Theater