Corona boldly embraces every space opera cliche | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Corona boldly embraces every space opera cliche 

Otherworld's mashup of Greek mythology and Star Trek is campy fun.

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Steven Townshend

Campy and fun, Elizabeth A.M. Keel's Corona follows the voyage of the starship Corona Borealis and its captain, Ariadne, on a mission to bring 14 sacrifices to the minotaur on planet Crete. A spin on the classic Greek myth, it hits every great sci-fi trope: a computer gone bad, a spaceship with a monster, a Kirk-like dude who wants some space sex, and an alternative mission only one person knows. There is humor, mystery, fighting, gods, sacrifices, and a bit of bestiality. Oh, those Greeks!

Focusing exclusively on sci-fi and fantasy, Otherworld Theatre does a lot with very little in terms of stage design, costumes, and special effects in artistic director Tiffany Keane Schaefer's staging. Hannah Beaudry's spacecraft set is sparse but magnificent, enhanced by Claire Sangster's lighting that creates fourth-wall computer screens. True to genre, the costumes and props are at once beautifully ethereal and wonderfully cheap.

Stephanie Mattos is commanding as Ariadne, whose duality is explored in various ways, most interestingly as she vacillates from stoic stillness to an explosive dance routine (a nod to Uhura's Star Trek V fan dance). Lonely and seeking friendship, Ariadne connects with Pneuma (Gaby Hernandez), healer and comic relief, and handsome prince Theseus (Bill Gordon), who brings his best Peter Quill to bear as he meatheads his way around both women. Overseeing the ship is DY-O (Scott Olson), an OS who, like Vision, goes from CPU to sentient android.

Without spoiling the story, the choice to cast the one Black actor as Ariadne unintentionally evokes some of America's racist history, which unfortunately is never addressed.   v

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