Sci-Fi Action Movie in Space Prison | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sci-Fi Action Movie in Space Prison 

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Sci-Fi Action Movie In Soace Prison, Defiant Theatre, at American Theater Company. From slogan ("In space, everything is dumber") to setting to thunderously phallic program design, this third Action Movie installment is quite the festival of gayness--in both the mocking and straightforward senses. Writer-director Joe Foust's proudly sophomoric script turns entirely on this retarded premise: space prison, once an idyllic "hotbed of gay prison sex," is thrown into turmoil when the visiting commissioner, who hates gay prison sex, orders a ban on all (you guessed it) gay prison sex. But then your average action movie requires no more plausible or complex excuse for its succession of fight scenes--and is only less openly homoerotic.

Much smarter than its big-screen targets, this parody ultimately depends on the same taste-trumping formula: high-octane production values, blisteringly precise violence, and bigger-than-life performances. Defiant's production delivers all three. Gregor Mortis and Sean Sinitski's sound design, abetted by music from techno band Prank, is a throbbing triumph studded with Arlo Bryan Guthrie's onstage effects, and the sets and props (by Martin McClendon, Micah M. Smyth, Foust, and a host of others) are appropriately over-the-top. Geoff Coates and Foust's fight choreography, which this time around incorporates "mechamining" battle suits and space monsters, is the perfect combination of impressive and ridiculous. And the cast masterfully display a dozen different shades of testosterone-choked swagger; especially good are Michael Mazzara, Jennifer Gehr, Danny Belrose, Samuel Munoz, Kurt Ehrmann, and leading man Jim Slonina.

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