Monday, July 1, 2013

Zygonians Rule!

The entertaining crew of actors, musicians and sound technicians who put on The Intergalactic Nemesis Book One: Target Earth did their last show of the season yesterday at the summer festival here in Ann Arbor.  They had been on tour since last September.  This was quite an event, with live music, awesome sound effects and a large screen display of action scenes from the graphic novel of the same name.  If you have ever seen a live performance of A Prairie Home Companion, you can imagine what this show looks like

Though it originated as a radio play several years ago, the three actors—each playing multiple parts and even producing some of the sound effects—play to the audience with over the top performances of the good guys and the bad guys in the story.  You won’t have any problem telling them apart.  The Intergalactic Nemesis uses stock characters from 1930s era comic and adventure books to fight a menacing alien race bent on conquering the Earth. 

Fellow Texans Molly Sloan and her sidekick Timmy Mendez, along with the mysterious Ben Wilcott and thuggish Jean-Pierre Desperois, encounter the evil hypnotist Mysterion, helpful robots, and scores of menacing Zygonians.  The show borrows heavily from old school science fiction as well more recent material; Star Trek and Futurama seem to be an influence, among others.

The Zygonians are clearly very Lovecraftian monsters.  They are huge, amorphous, gelatinous, shape shifting, green, slimy, multiple-eyed and gravelly voiced beings.  They smell evil, probably because they are “a sludge based life form”.  A Zygonian battle cruiser, besides weapons, is literally armed with tentacles.  With nearly overwhelming mental powers, they plan to conquer earth and subjugate—and/or eat—humanity.  Will Molly and her friends succeed in saving the Earth?

The writing is clever and the screen projections bring coherence to the tale.  Being suitable for all ages, the show is very family friendly, (my wife and I were surrounded by elementary school aged children and their parents).  There are a few intense scenes, however these would be considered “Disney-intense”.  The frenetic action scenes and melodramatic sound effects keep the show lively and visually interesting.  It’s great retro fun.

But I wonder what Lovecraft would have made of all the tie-ins on sale in the lobby.  From what I have read, he was at best indifferent to promotion of his work.   Fans of the show could purchase noisemakers, buttons, books, T-shirts, CDs and slime.  I was impressed with the coordination that went into simultaneous appearances on the web, Twitter, You-Tube, Facebook, and the publicity around the shows in each of the cities they visited.  All of this was combined with the roll out of Book One and Book Two of the graphic novel series—a third one is planned, to make it a trilogy.

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