One of the most keenly anticipated events of this year’s gathering in the cavernous spaces beneath the tracks of Waterloo Station is this sci-fi space rock musical by the hugely original and talented Henry Carpenter. Developed through the good offices of Hannah Elsy Productions, we have seen this brilliant new creation grow from a 3-song skit at Elsy’s Rich Mix ‘Lowdown’ event, via a workshop presentation at the Young Vic, into this fully developed 70 minute entertainment now about to play six performances in the Brick Hall. With a 6-week run of the show’s forerunner, ‘The Quentin Dentin Show’ (seen two years ago at Edinburgh, and last year at Above The Arts), shortly to open in a brand new production by Adam Lenson at a London venue, clearly things are on the up-and-up for the determined and innovative Carpenter and Elsy. What previews I’ve seen of the show so far make me feel very excited indeed about how it is going to turn out as a full show: Carpenter is really beginning to hit his stride as a bold experimenter with form and style – and he has plenty more work in development.
Quite what director Sinead O'Callaghan (Peter and the Starcatcher, Arena Theatre and Gentle Tim, VAULT Festival 2016), has in mind for this premiere showing of Quentin’s successor, we will find out soon enough. What we know now is the lovely cast assembled to take us into their orbit: Matthew Jacobs Morgan (Love, Nina and Cuffs, BBC1 and Wasted, E4) plays the lead, John Spartan, a dedicated professional astronaut, who has worked all his life to achieve his dream of going into space. Morgan’s theatre credits also include Our Town, Almeida Theatre and The Hive, Jackson's Lane. He is joined by Candice Palladino (4 Fit Girls Hit London, Fish Overboard Pictures and Everybody Dies, Edible Brains Productions – Nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role at the Planet Connections Theater Festival) as the ferocious and sexy Alien; and the actor-writer-director Benjamin Victor assumes the role of Lethal Space Bizzle (I’ve seen him being wonderful in Cuckoo’s Nest at the LOST Theatre, and loved his direction of Dominic Powell’s 1 to 10 at the Landor) and the Computer (stuck on board the spaceship and leading an unexpressed inner life).
O’Callaghan is also working on The Lock In for Over The Limit Theatre at VAULT Festival 2017. Returning from Hannah Elsy Productions’ The Quentin Dentin Show are Lara Davidson (Design and Lighting Design) and Caldonia Walton (Movement).
Grumpy Gay Critic described Quentin as “High voltage mayhem (…) absolutely unmissable”, and I have to admit that I did go and see it three times. This presentation is being promoted as ‘a sequel’ to that (although it doesn’t appear to include any of the same characters or situations), but we are assured that it continues writer Henry Carpenter’s breakdown of a “broken future”.
This production is part of VAULT Festival’s “Proxima V” programming strand of science fiction/ futuristic work for 2017.
Summer Nights In Space will run at the Vault Festival from 15 – 19 February 2017.