Warp Speed as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival
Review by Sander Gusinow
If there’s one good thing to say about ‘Warp Speed: a Sci Fi Parody’ it’s the innovate small-space choreography of Christopher Noffke. Sadly, finding a second good thing to say about this chaotic misfire proves a tall intergalactic order.
Loosely based around an episode of ‘Star Trek’ the crew onboard the ‘Starship Interstellar’ plunge into peril when an electrical storm endows two members of the ship with deadly psychic capabilities. The parody is insipidly surface-level. Collin Kessler can’t scratch the surface of a good William Shatner impression. Jokes about the genre that could be ironic, such as objectification of the female actors, strike an uncomfortable chord. (said one audience member in the lavatory: ‘Are they just gonna grab her breasts all night?) Only Justin Ivan Brown, who parodies the awkwardly-ship-loving Scottie, gives the giggles a parody ought to provide.
Warp Speed lacks both wit and love for the source material needed to make it soar. A Star Trek fan will be undoubtedly disappointed as the script lazily exploits Star Wars, Firefly, and other Sci Fi classics for a cheap laugh. The humor whiffs constantly, too dulled-down for the genuine Sci Fi crowd and too referential for the rest of us. The bulk of the jokes are bawdy physical affairs too gratuitous for children, too dopey for adults. Gregory Sullivan (parodying Mr. Chekhov) does best with the physical comedy, but mostly because of his ability to walk on his hands and eat inedible objects.
It’s easy to forget ‘Warp Speed’ is a musical. The carelessly-written lyrics neither rhyme well nor advance the story. The melodies are occasionally bouncy but overall languid and repetitive. The songs ‘Warp Speed’ aren’t hit or miss, per se, more a mix of tolerable and annoying. A song about ESP is the most bearable of the bunch, but it comes early, and leads to miss after musical miss.
As our culture’s obsession with nerd-dom continues in its stride, this uninspired parody seems more an attempt to capitalize on a trend than a genuine love letter to genre. Geeks beware: ‘Warp Speed’ is warped indeed.