Why aren't there more science fiction stage plays? Is it the difficulty of doing special effects on stage, or the feeling that SF isn't serious enough for a Tennessee Williams-esque drama? Discover Magazine's Science Not Fiction wants to know. But actually, it's not strictly true that the proscenium is a scifi-free zone. The occasion for Discover asking the question is a new alien invasion play that just opened in New York. And a serious play about robots that live on the sun just opened in Vietnam.
A tongue-in-cheek play called I Come For Love just opened at the New York Musical Theater Festival. According to Discover, "the tongue-in-cheek plot revolves around a female alien (dubbed “Nine-Oh”) who has landed in her UFO in a bid to find out just what is this Earth thing called love." I feel as though I've seen other tongue-in-cheeky retro-1950s musical takes on science fiction themes on stage before — in fact, this may be the default mode for science fiction theater. The play got mixed reviews. Says Backstage:
When an alien lands in Roswell, the first thing it does is throw its arms around a flat-footed, lovelorn adolescent. This is the effect of much of I Come for Love — being trapped in a suffocating embrace while all kinds of strange and exciting things fill the periphery.
But Backstage liked the show's music, and you can hear some samples here. Meanwhile, I have to say Nguoi Nam 2222 (Human Being in 2222) sounds way more interesting, and I really hope English is one of the five languages it gets translated into. The play, by award-winning writer Le Duy Hanh, just premiered at the Le Quy Duong Trial Theatre in Hanoi. But a revised version will have its official premiere in 2010 as part of the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of Hanoi's founding. And it'll tour festivals in China, Australia and Europe. Nguoi Nam 2222 is about a husband and wife team of scientists whose inventions get a little crazy:
The scientists’ quest for creativity and reform takes the audience around the solar system, from the earth to the sun and the moon and back, over five acts. While the husband finds success in inventing robots that can live on the sun, his wife brings human clones to the moon. However, the robots and clones abandon their creators’ goals of bettering human life, and threaten all of humanity with a world that is soulless, rootless and loveless. After destroying their brainchildren, the couple return to earth for a tentative "happily ever after".
I love the fact that the solar robots team up with the lunar clones, to destroy humanity. And I love even more that this is being presented as a piece of serious theater, by an award-winning playwright. [Discover Magazine and Viet Nam News]